High Tech Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Social media and smart phone tools designed to aid in emergencies

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    With California due for a big earthquake, early detection may be key in preparing for the worst.

    San Diego scientists are developing a program that will detect earthquakes about a minute before they hit, hopefully in enough time to give some warning to trains, hospitals and other warning systems, according to SDSU Geologist Pat Abbott.

    Abbott said the next big earthquake that will hit California will likely be a magnitude of about 7.8 on the east side of the Salton Sea.

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography is working on an early detection program now. Abbott says it may be up and running in about a year.

    With this information accessible, it is likely private tech companies will develop smart phone apps and social media warning messages, Abbott said.

    In the meantime, social media and smart phone apps designed to give out information about earthquakes in real time are already on the market.

    On smart phones, the “ifeltthat” app is available on iTunes for $.99. The app uses information from several sources and lists the quakes a few moments after they occur. Earthquake Alarm ($.99 on iTunes) shows a map with varying magnitudes of earthquakes when they happen.

    One app, the Seismometer ($.99 on iTunes) claims to use an iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to detect earthquakes, but the app measures all vibrations, so users can’t be sure if the measurements are earthquakes.

    The U.S. Geological Survey – often the most turned-to website for up-to-date earthquake information – is currently studying how they can give better earthquake information on Twitter. Their official handle, @USGSted tweets out information on earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.5 or higher that have already happen.

    USGS has its own twitter handle for California earthquakes -- @USGS_EQ_CA.

    For earthquakes information in California and Nevada 3.5 magnitude or higher, follow @CAQuake on Twitter. Tsunami warnings are tweeted through the @NewEarthquake twitter handle.

    Creating a list with several earthquake-focused twitter handles is one way to get information on quakes when you think you might have felt one.

    Keep up to date on breaking news: Download our improved iPhone app, follow us on Twitter @nbcsandiego, fan us on Facebook, sign up for our breaking news e-mail alerts or text SDBREAKING to 622339 to receive text messages for local breaking news. (For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.)