The MyShake earthquake alert app developed by campus seismologists will send a test alert Oct. 19th for International ShakeOut Day, instructing users to participate in the global drill.
This year’s alert will take place at 10:19 a.m. PDT, when MyShake app users will be encouraged to take measures such as “Drop, Cover and Hold” and be notified the message is a drill, according to Christina Valen, data analyst of the UC Berkeley Seismology Laboratory.
Developed on campus with support from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in 2016, the MyShake app is designed to alert users before an earthquake hits so they can take appropriate precautions.
“If the earthquake is expected to be magnitude 4.5 and greater, a message gets created and MyShake takes this message and delivers an alert to the phones in an area where a reasonable amount of shaking is expected,” Valen said in an email.
Valen noted in the email that MyShake was originally designed to mobilize phone accelerometers as seismic stations to send alerts from detected shaking. Valen added that California’s seismic network can detect earthquakes more efficiently than cellphones, so the app instead relies on information from local stations.
According to Valen, while most app users are based in California, some are based in Oregon and Washington, where early warning alerts will also be sent.
Mark Benthien, global coordinator for ShakeOut, emphasized the relevance of these drills in Berkeley, noting the Hayward Fault runs directly through the California Memorial Stadium.
“ShakeOut started in 2008 as a one-time regional drill in Southern California to allow people to practice for what would happen in a major earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault,” Benthien said. “We had five and a half million people (participating) that first year, then it grew statewide, and eventually also grew beyond California.”
Benthien noted ShakeOut aims to shift the culture around earthquake preparedness by increasing awareness and encouraging large numbers of drill participants.
According to Valen, this alert is not new; MyShake has sent out test alerts coinciding with International ShakeOut Day in previous years. Valen added the Oct. 19th test will only be sent to MyShake app users.
“During an actual earthquake, android phones without the app can still get earthquake early warning messages assuming that emergency alerts are enabled,” Valen said in the email.
Valen also noted that as the campus community approaches this yearly drill, the MyShake app has updates planned to allow users to access alerts from a designated area, even with location services turned off.
According to Benthien, the MyShake app alert allows users to access a safe area in a timely manner, which reduces the likelihood of people getting injured from falling objects or nearby structures.
“The more people who are able to protect themselves quickly, the fewer people will need emergency assistance afterwards,” Benthien said.