Smarthphone earthquake quantifier (?)

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RJN
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Smarthphone earthquake quantifier (?)

Postby RJN » Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:47 am

One possible use for a smartphone as a scientific measuring device is to use the internal accelerometer to measure information about earthquakes as they happen. The idea would be that a bunch of smartphones that just happened to be in the vicinity of an earthquake and otherwise motionless should be able to record their location and accelerations over time and report this back to a central location. I am not a seismologist, but it would seem to me that the coverage of a whole bunch of smartphones in a impromptu network might be of use in quantifying the nature, magnitude, and reach of an earthquake. Also, once an earthquake was measured, subscribing smartphone app owners might be text-ed or emailed to be sure to turn on their earthquake app to quantify the magnitude, breadth, and duration of possible aftershocks.

I would have guessed that there would be such apps in the iPhone app store. But after looking online and with my the iPhone store app on my iPhone, now I am not so sure. There do seem to be a few apps that are labelled as "Earthquake detectors" but it seems that the idea behind these is informing you if there is an earthquake, either from your smartphones single accelerometer or from an alert network. One example app is "Earthquake Detector" by Dream C&C Canada, which is described on this web page: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/earthqua ... d388551065 . This app appears somewhat interesting but does not seem to do real science by measuring an earthquake from a variety of vantage points. Perhaps, however, I am mis-informed or don't understand this or similar apps fully. And I have only looked at iPhone apps. If someone knows more or investigates further and finds out something deeper or different, please post that as a response to this post.

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Smarthphone earthquake quantifier (?)

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:47 am

Most uses for portable devices currently in use, or planned, are more about social engineering than science... things like environmental monitoring, traffic and noise control, public space planning, and the like.

Earthquake monitoring was an early use for these devices for science. USGS currently runs a citizen science project called Did You Feel It? which relies on reports submitted online. It's not currently optimized for mobile devices, but I suspect that may be in the works. The iShake Project uses the accelerometer in portable devices (unfortunately, still limited to iOS devices) to log earthquakes, and currently has several million events in their database. I remember reading about something similar in Japan, but don't have a reference. Clearly, these kinds of citizen science projects involving seismology are going to continue to be developed.
Chris

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RJN
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Re: Smarthphone earthquake quantifier (?)

Postby RJN » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:52 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:. The iShake Project uses the accelerometer in portable devices (unfortunately, still limited to iOS devices) to log earthquakes, and currently has several million events in their database.


Thanks, Chris! iShake is just the type of app I was thinking of! Good find! Looking in the iPhone app store, there are several apps associated with the name "iShake" but none of them are Berkeley's earthquake science app, and none of them seem to be real science based. I guess one must look in just the right place for just the right keywords to find the right stuff. I am still trying to find it in the app store so I can download it to my iPhone. I hope to post UC Berkeley's iShake as a separate post in this forum later.

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Smarthphone earthquake quantifier (?)

Postby Chris Peterson » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:09 pm

RJN wrote:Thanks, Chris! iShake is just the type of app I was thinking of! Good find! Looking in the iPhone app store, there are several apps associated with the name "iShake" but none of them are Berkeley's earthquake science app, and none of them seem to be real science based. I guess one must look in just the right place for just the right keywords to find the right stuff. I am still trying to find it in the app store so I can download it to my iPhone. I hope to post UC Berkeley's iShake as a separate post in this forum later.

FYI, I was aware of these things through recent articles in Science, which in the last few years has looked at how mobile computing is affecting society, and all the ways that people are dreaming up of using a connected network of billions of sensors and processors. Try the Science search engine and you might come up with more things along these lines.
Chris

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