Google has had an active earthquake warning built into Android for a number of years. But the system is said to have failed during the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in February of this year.
The warning system is said to have reacted too late
The BBC reports this and proves it with its analysis of the messages that Android users have received in Turkey. The warning function should actually be distributed automatically to Android users in advance of the first noticeable shocks so that protective measures can be taken quickly.
According to the BBC report, however, the warning system failed and only sent out warnings after the big tremor, when there were aftershocks and slight shaking.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake in parts of Turkey and Syria did not prompt any notification. The report cites hundreds of people interviewed in Turkey about the quake, none of whom said they received an alert from Google. Around 80 percent of the smartphone market in Turkey consists of Android phones.
Google sees it differently
However, as the BBC writes, Google is convinced that the system worked well.
When asked, an executive responsible for Android’s earthquake alerts said the company was “confident that this system triggered and sent alerts before the first major quake”.
However, Google has not provided any evidence to support this claim, only citing posts on social media. When contacting those who posted the warning, only one user was able to confirm that they received a warning prior to the first quake, while the other posts related to later quakes for which warnings came in. The Google executive explained that the “most likely explanation” is that users didn’t see the notifications given the impact of the first quake, adding:
During a devastating earthquake, numerous factors can influence whether users receive, notice, or act on an additional alert – including the specific characteristics of the earthquake and the availability of internet connections.
The February 2023 earthquake in Turkey was one of the most devastating in recent memory. Almost 60,000 dead were counted, many of whom were killed by collapsing buildings.
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