Each android smartphone is equipped with tiny accelerometers that can act as mini seismometers. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives.

New Delhi: Technology giant Google on Wednesday launched an earthquake alert system in India that can help people with android smartphones run to safety when the quake begins.

Earthquakes are one of the most common natural disasters in the world, and an early warning can be pivotal in helping people prepare and get themselves and their loved ones to safety.

The system, introduced in consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Seismology Centre (NSC) in India, uses sensors in android smartphones to detect and estimate earthquakes.

Each android smartphone is equipped with tiny accelerometers that can act as mini seismometers.

When a phone is plugged in and charging, it can detect the very beginnings of earthquakes.

“If many phones detect earthquake-like tremors around the same time, our server can use this information to estimate that an earthquake may be happening, as well as characteristics of the event - like its epicentre and magnitude. Then, our server can send alerts to nearby phones,” Micah Berman, Product Manager, Android Safety at Google, wrote in a blog post.

“Internet signals travel at the speed of light, much faster than the propagation of earthquake shaking through the ground, so the alerts often reach phones several seconds before severe shaking does,” he added.

The feature, already deployed in many countries around the world, will be rolled out to all Android 5+ users in India in the coming week.

The alerts are designed to be easy to read and follow, and are available in Indian languages supported by android.

To receive alerts, users must have Wi-Fi and/or cellular data connectivity, and both android earthquake alerts and location settings enabled.

Users who do not wish to receive these alerts can turn off earthquake alerts in device settings.

The system also provides information through Google Search about local seismic events and safety measures when people search for information with queries like “Earthquake near me.”

“We hope to supplement the government’s efforts on earthquake alerts and provide people with the advance notice they need to stay safe. In India, we have been working closely with the NDMA to provide users with helpful safety information about natural disasters such as floods and cyclones on Google Search and Maps,” Berman said.