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>> Scientist have been saying for years that the Big One is coming to the West Coast any day now, but when it hits, there will still be very little warning. That's because unlike Japan where mobile phones were buzzing with alerts in 2011, the early warning system here isn't ready.
So some researchers at the University of California Berkeley are looking to the smart phone for help.>> I'm Reuters Jane Lon Healy and the widget in the phone that tracks your steps and speed called the accelerometer can also be used to detect an earthquake now, thanks to a new app that can distinguished the ground shaking from your movement.
It's called My Shake.>> Richard Allen's the man behind the app which for now helps him gather data on earthquakes from around the world. It's only on android phones for now and won't send you a warning yet. And he says, while no early warning system can help those in the epicenter, others nearby can get precious seconds or minutes to prepare.
What's surprising is that here in the epicenter of Tech Development, more apps and technology aren't already in place for early warning systems.>> Frankly, we don't spend as much time thinking about earthquakes as we need to given how serious the the threat is for us there in the Bay Area.
And so I think we'll find that after we have the next round of earthquakes, there will be a whole plethora of apps that will be trying to do similar things.>> For now, there's no money in technology linked to an event event that comes only once every so many decades or even centuries.
While the smartphone app is better than nothing, Alan warns it can't ever match the accuracy of earthquake sensors in the ground But getting the state or federal government to commit enough funds for that system is a challenge. Japan started building one only after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. With over 4,000 sensors the country is densely covered compared with California' s 500 some sensor coverage.
The West Coast has been building up its network of censored on the ground since 2006, but more need to be added, old ones upgraded, and engineers hired to maintain them. That requires funding and researchers say the Earth will have to move for the money to flow.