Earthquake warning system for LA County now available as mobile-phone application

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The earthquake early warning system that the City of Long Beach has been beta testing since 2014 is now available to residents in Los Angeles County as a mobile-phone application, named “ShakeAlertLA,” according to officials.

Seismologists and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists recently announced the rollout of the first phase of an earthquake early warning system for the west coast.

“Seconds count when it comes to surviving an earthquake,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a press release. “This is technology that residents in Long Beach and throughout the county have been waiting for. I encourage residents to download this app and follow the instructions provided.”

The ShakeAlertLA app is designed to notify the public of a significant tremblor before the shaking occurs. Several seconds of advance notice could be provided depending on the magnitude of the earthquake and the distance of individuals from the epicenter of the earthquake, officials said.

The app is now available for download for Apple and Android phones. Those who download the app will receive a push alert seconds before an earthquake hits Los Angeles County. Alerts will be sent to phones for earthquakes 5.0 in magnitude or higher. The app does not need to be open for users to receive the alert. Tips to prepare and recover from an earthquake are also available on the app.

“We have beta tested this system for the past four years, and it has demonstrated a high degree of accuracy in providing warnings about earthquakes,” said Reggie Harrison, City of Long Beach director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications. “With early warning, residents can protect themselves.”

The push-alert system will be triggered by the U.S. Geological Survey early warning system, ShakeAlert, which has about 400 sensors in Southern California and more in Oregon and Washington.

The City of Los Angeles approved a $300,000 contract for the design, creation and deployment of the earthquake-warning app.

The City of Long Beach Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications has more information on earthquake preparedness, available in English and Spanish, at bit.ly/2mN5jaD.