Android earthquake alert system praised for accuracy after large quake strikes near Taranaki

Author
Vita Molyneux, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jan 2022, 3:53PM
The alerts allow people to "mentally prepare" for the incoming quake. Photo / File
The alerts allow people to "mentally prepare" for the incoming quake. Photo / File

Android earthquake alert system praised for accuracy after large quake strikes near Taranaki

Author
Vita Molyneux, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jan 2022, 3:53PM

In the minutes before a long rumbling earthquake struck Aotearoa just before midnight last night, hundreds of New Zealanders got the chance to prepare thanks to an "amazing" alert system pinging their cellphones. 

The 5.8 magnitude Taranaki quake, which struck at 11.49pm on Wednesday had its epicentre 25km east of Stratford. Its estimated depth was 187km. 

The quake was rated as "severe" on Geonet's "felt reports" feature by several people in Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Wellington, as well as near its Taranaki epicentre. 

Thanks to the Android Earthquake Alert system, pioneered by Google, many people got a message before the shaking, telling them the estimated strength and how far it was from them. 

The alerts, developed by Google, are being trialled in New Zealand and Greece - and New Zealanders seem to be loving them. 

Gill Jolly, GNS Science Natural Hazards and Risks Team Leader, says the system could allow people to "mentally prepare" for the quake and take immediate action when it's safe to do so. 

She says GNS appreciates anything which keeps people safer. 

"We welcome any innovation that helps build Aotearoa New Zealand's resilience to earthquakes, and that complements the crucial work done by GNS Science and GeoNet." 

Wellington resident Gabriel Bioletti told the Herald he's so used to quakes he probably wouldn't stop what he was doing for anything under a magnitude of 6 – but that's exactly why he appreciates the alert system. 

"In that sense, it's very helpful because it will tell me if I'm expecting a large magnitude quake ... any notice is good for a natural disaster and it seems reliable and reasonably accurate."