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Guardian Angel; the mobile app that’s protecting Los Angeles

Los Angeles, USA


The earthquake state

California experiences about 10,000 earthquakes every year, but the majority of them are too small to be felt. However, in the last 25 years there have been 11 moderate to major earthquakes in the state that have, in total, caused approximately 72 deaths, 9000 injuries and $40 billion worth of damage. Scientists have predicted there is a 99.7% chance of a magnitude 6.7 or higher earthquake striking California by 2037.

Prepared for disaster

Whilst earthquakes cannot be prevented, they can be prepared for. Mobile operator AT&T, working with the City of Los Angeles and the U.S. Geological Survey have launched the US’s first earthquake early warning system, mobile app ShakeAlertLA, for the citizens of Los Angeles.

Providing precious seconds

The ShakeAlertLA app is connected to hundreds of sensors that collect data from geologic faults. When strong seismic activity is detected, a notification is sent to app users, giving them advanced warning of when the earthquake will hit. The further away they are from the epicentre, the more notice they receive, giving them time to take protective actions such as moving away from dangerous chemicals or machines, shutting down gas and electric supply lines, stopping rail and road traffic, halting airport take offs and landings, stopping surgeries and preparing emergency personnel. After an earthquake, LA residents can also use the app to find emergency services and locate safe shelter.

A safer city

When the system was tested on the 2014 magnitude 6 Napa earthquake, users in San Francisco were given 8 seconds warning before the strongest ground shaking arrived. This may not sound like much, but in a disaster situation even a brief window of time is vital to gather family members, get out of harm’s way or ‘drop, cover and hold’ as earthquake drills instruct. As of August 2019, over 800,000 people had downloaded the ShakeAlertLA smartphone app.

“Angelenos should have every chance to protect themselves and their families when there's a major earthquake. We created the ShakeAlertLA app because getting a few seconds' heads-up can make a big difference if you need to pull to the side of the road, get out of an elevator, or drop, cover, and hold on."

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

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USA 34.0522° N, 118.2437° W

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