India’s first earthquake early warning mobile app launched in Uttarakhand

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Express News Service

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand government on Wednesday launched an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) Mobile App — ‘Uttarakhand Bhookamp Alert’ — developed by IIT-Roorkee. 

It is the country’s first application for notifying people about earthquake alerts. 

After launching the mobile app, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The application will prove useful in saving many lives. People must be made aware of this app through various awareness campaigns. I applaud our scientists from the IIT-Roorkee who through their innovative thinking are contributing to the welfare of the society.”

The programme was initially launched as a pilot project only by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences for the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.  Given its success and the need of the region, the IITR’s EEW project proposal was further extended by the Uttarakhand government. 

The application is available in two versions, compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. The project was sponsored by Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA) since the Uttarakhand region is the most seismically active and prone to earthquakes.

EEW is a real-time earthquake information system that can detect the onset of the earthquake and issue warnings before the significant tremors take hold of the state. 

The physical basis for an earthquake early warning system is the speed of the seismic waves, which propagate after the release of stress from faults movement. 

The strong ground shaking is caused by shear waves which travel at about half the speed of the primary waves and much slower than electromagnetic signals. The EEW system exploits this advantage.

Professor Ajit K Chaturvedi, director of the IIT-R said, “I take immense pride in sharing that IITR has designed an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) mobile app, for timely dissemination of the information regarding an earthquake occurrence in the neighbourhood and the expected time of arrival and intensity at the location to prevent any loss of life. The project had been specifically launched in tie-up with the Uttarakhand Government as the region is prone to seismic activities. As part of the project, sensors had been installed in the high terrains of the Garhwal and Kumaun regions of the state. 

“Seismic data stream in at the central server established in EEW System laboratory, CoEDMM, IIT Roorkee. High-speed telecommunication is used for data streaming, while high-performance computers quickly compute scenario projections. The central server processes the retrieved data continuously on 24 × 7 basis. The server issues the warning to the public as soon as it detects that an earthquake of magnitude greater than 5 has occurred in those areas where sensors are installed. Warning time varies with the distance of a location from the epicenter of the earthquake.”

Describing the uniqueness of the mobile app, Professor Kamal, principal investigator of the project mentioned that this is the only app in the world to record the location of the people who are unfortunately stuck somewhere during the earthquake and send this information to the Disaster Response Force. 

Issuing the warning through these devices appeared to be a more effective plan to reach the masses in a relatively lesser time which resulted in the development of a smartphone application for earthquake early warning dissemination. 

The information is sent out to the users through to app, advising them to evacuate and relocate before the damaging earthquake waves approach their dwellings through the app. 

For receiving an earthquake early warning, all a user has to do is install the app and fill in the necessary information during the installation process. 

The app contains informative videos to guide the user to follow the steps during the earthquakes to save themselves,  gives an early warning of damaging earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5 originating in Uttarakhand only, sends the current location in the SOS message, which requires location permission to be granted. 

The warning would be issued to the public when the server estimates that the impending earthquake is damaging, while only notification would be issued for non-damaging earthquakes.



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