/ April 28, 2010

Crowdsourcing Early Earthquake Warnings

Crowdsourcing Early Earthquake Warnings

We recently heard about a fantastic research project headed up by geoscientist Elizabeth Cochran of the University of California, Riverside.  Her project called, Quake-Catcher Network, harnesses the power of a little device that resides in most new laptops called an “accelerometer.”


cc licensed flickr photo shared by the_tahoe_guy

The accelerometer is a type of motion sensor that is intended to help protect laptops by detecting when the machine has been dropped and turning off the hard drive.  When Cochran learned that these devices were being placed in laptops, she came up with the idea of using them to create a network that could record earthquakes.

So with some help from Stanford geophysics professor Jesse Lawrence, Quake-Catcher Network was born.  The concept is simple:  members of the public can download a free software program that runs silently in the background of their laptops detecting tremors and collecting data from the accelerometer in their machine.  The data that is collected is transmitted to researchers who can analyze it and use it to (hopefully) predict an earthquake.

For more information on the project, click here.

(As awesome as this project is, it is almost begging for an iPhone app. Smartphones have accelerometers too! We were not able to find any solid information on a mobile app related to the project, but let us know if you do).

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