EARTHQUAKE ALERTS: City of LA Announces New Earthquake Early Warning App

Posted on 01/03/2019
Screenshot of ShakeAlertLA app on a smartphone screen.

What would you do if you had 10 seconds of warning before a major earthquake struck? 

The City of Los Angeles has released ShakeAlertLA, the new earthquake early warning application for Los Angeles County. 

ShakeAlertLA is a pilot project, in collaboration with the US Geological Survey (USGS), AT&T and The Annenberg Foundation, to combine the USGS ShakeAlert earthquake early warning sensor network with mobile app technology. By expanding public use, the City of Los Angeles and its partners will be closely monitoring the ShakeAlertLA app to continue to improve its functionality and identify opportunities for further technological development. The L.A.-based pilot is a crucial step towards delivering ShakeAlerts to the entire West Coast.

ShakeAlertLA launched on the Apple and Google Play stores on December 31, 2018, following more than a decade of research and development led by the USGS. The app has undergone extensive testing and has shown promising results, which will be improved with this rollout.

What is ShakeAlert?

Since 2006, the USGS has been developing its ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system with a coalition of collaborators for the entire west coast of the US. In California, ShakeAlert collaborators include the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Caltech, UC Berkeley, the California Geological Survey, and University of Nevada, Reno.

ShakeAlert can provide users with critical seconds of warning that an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent. Alerts are issued when an earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or larger is detected by a regional sensor network and shaking is expected to be felt in the Los Angeles area. Nevertheless, a limitation in any early warning system is distance from the epicenter. The further a user is from the epicenter of an earthquake, the greater the warning a ShakeAlert user may receive — inversely, a user who is located closer to the epicenter may receive less warning.

To learn more about ShakeAlert, click here.