San Diego's SD Emergency app is now equipped with ShakeReadySD, an earthquake early warning system, it was announced Wednesday.
This feature will let users know if an earthquake has occurred nearby that is likely to cause shaking within seconds and it will urge them to take protective measures.
County officials were joined by a United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientist to roll out the improved mobile app.
“This is an early warning system that has the potential to give users a few seconds warning or a heads up that an earthquake is coming. And that advance warning could make all the difference. It could give you a number of seconds to be able to move your family, your friends into a safe place and help avoid serious injury," said county Board of Supervisors Chairman, Nathan Fletcher.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
The ShakeReady SD technology is designed to trigger an alert to your cellphone if you are in a location close enough to an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater with a shaking intensity of 3 or greater. The app can also provide emergency notifications such as road closures, shelters, or other relevant critical information.
USGS has a network of more than 770 underground sensors and other technologies built to protect residents and visitors throughout California as part of its ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System, which powers the ShakeReadySD component of the SD Emergency App. The county Office of Emergency Services has been working with the USGS on the alert for more than a year.
“ShakeReadySD can save lives and reduce injuries by giving people time to take a protective action like drop, cover, and hold on, or move away from hazardous areas,” said Robert-Michael de Groot of the USGS.
In order for the new feature to work, users who already have the app will need to update it and then configure the settings including selecting English or Spanish and allowing the app to always track the phone's location so that it can accurately alert the user if an earthquake is expected in the area.
The app is available for iOs and Android phones for free.
For more details, click here.