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Indian Institute of Technology Launches Earthquake Early Warning Mobile App

The Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) recently announced the launch of Uttarakhand Bhookamp Alert, which is India’s first earthquake early warning (EEW) mobile app, according to its creators. The app is available for both Android and iOS platforms. The project was sponsored by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA).

EEW is a real-time earthquake information system that can detect the onset of an earthquake and issue warnings. The physical basis for an earthquake early warning system is the speed of the seismic waves, which spread after the release of stress from faults movement. The earth shakes due to shear waves, which travel at about half the speed of the primary waves and are much slower than electromagnetic signals. The EEW system exploits this advantage, IIT-Roorkee said in a statement.

The Institute stated that the application was initially launched as a pilot project by the Ministry of Earth Sciences for the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The project proposal was further extended by the Uttarakhand government. IIT-Roorkee Director, Professor Ajit K Chaturvedi, noted that the mobile app will be used for the 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. As per an official, this is the only app in the world to record the location of the people who are stuck in an earthquake and send this information to the Disaster Response Force.

A report explained that IIT-Roorkee initially intended to help the government install public sirens in two major cities in Uttarakhand to alert citizens before a calamity hits the region. But given the limited time and resources to cover the entire state, the Institute decided to switch to another medium for a wider reach. A smartphone application emerged as a more viable option to pursue. The information is sent out to the users through the app, advising them to evacuate and relocate.

The app contains informative videos to guide the user to follow the steps during the earthquakes to save themselves. This app gives an early warning of damaging earthquakes of magnitude greater than five originating in Uttarakhand only. A warning is issued when the server estimates that the impending earthquake is damaging. A notification will be issued for non-damaging earthquakes. The report added that the app requires notification permission to be granted to receive the warnings. It also sends the current location in the SOS message, which requires the user to grant access to their location. In the case of an emergency, location sharing helps the search and rescue team deliver arrive as soon as possible. The app receives warning through the Internet; users are requested to stay connected through the Internet.

In July, the India Meteorological Department announced it would deploy artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to provide more accurate weather forecasts. IMD collaborated with IIITs in Prayagraj, Vadodara, and Kharagpur for technology upgradation. IMD has also tied up with a private tech player to provide precise short-term and long-term weather forecasts. As OpenGov Asia reported, IMD AI algorithms will help understand past weather models and improve decision-making. The agency uses different tools like radars and satellite imagery to issue nowcasts, which provide information on extreme weather events occurring in the next 3-6 hours. The technology is expected to help citizens deal with cyclones, earthquakes, and thunderstorms in their regions.

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