New earthquake warning system app launches in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — The city is taking cautious steps and safety measures to warn residents in case of an earthquake.

No doubt about it — California is earthquake country. And now the state’s largest city is trying to shake things up when it comes to earthquake response.

The US Geological Survey, the mayor of Los Angeles, the Anneberg Foundation, and AT&T have developed the Shake Alert LA app, hoping to give residents an adequate earthquake warning system.

“We look at other countries like Japan like Mexico that has had this you can never count the lives saved. You can only count the lives lost, and so I know you can’t show it in a budget but this works and we need it,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It’s a message to Washington DC loud and clear; continue to fund this throughout California, continue to expand in Southern California and anywhere else in this country that’s earthquake-prone.”

And while it doesn’t predict when tremors will hit, the app advises residents of what to do and where to go as soon as a magnitude 5.0 or greater quake hits.

The app uses a person’s location.

Users that are further away from the epicenter will have more time to react. While those close to it will have less of a warning.

“We’ll save lives by giving precious seconds to you and your family to take action and prepare yourselves for the next magnitude 5.0 earthquake or bigger hits, whether that’s pulling aside on the road, whether that’s stepping away from power lines, whether that’s exiting elevators or taking a moment to drop cover and hold on. This technology is truly cutting edge.”

“The app is simple; it’s user-friendly; it’s something that is both comprehensive in not only detecting where an earthquake may be starting, but alerting citizens and first responders of how they can help do something when seconds really do matter,” said Rhonda Johnson.

For now, the app which works on both Android and Apple devices, and on all mobile carriers only works within Los Angeles County. Developers are hoping to bring the same technology to other counties. And the city is ready to help, as the state continues its earthquake preparation initiatives.

The app is considered an open source — meaning companies, developers and other municipalities are welcomed to improve it.

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