Earthquake alert: Ranchi techie develops lifesaving Android phone app

  • Saurav Roy, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Apr 21, 2016 16:13 IST
While the mobile phone app cannot actually “predict” earthquakes, it can prevent loss of life by providing real-time information on the incident. (AP file photo)

A techie from Ranchi has developed a cloud-based smartphone app that detects earthquakes and minimalises loss of life by sending out timely warnings.

According to 25-year-old Ketan Singh, the app – titled Quake Safe – creates a report and sends it to a cloud-based software for further analysis whenever it senses a shaking motion. If the cloud receives several reports of the kind from the same location within three seconds, it infers the probability of an earthquake. After further confirmation, the software sends push-alerts to all devices around the epicenter – advising users to prepare for an incoming earthquake.

“Earthquakes originate from an epicenter and spread out radially at a maximum speed of around eight kilometres per second. The space of time between the app sending the first report (upon sensing the initial shake) and the cloud-based software alerting mobile phone users is around eight seconds… so, if you happen to be situated 60 kilometres or further from the epicenter, you will receive an alert before the quake actually arrives,” he said.

Singh said that if 50% of the devices in a particular location detect similar tremors near the epicenter, the cloud will immediately send alerts to all app users within a 100-km radius. The success of the technology, however, depends on the number of app users present in the area.

Singh began working on the project after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, which claimed thousands of lives.

Read: Natural disasters since 1900 cost the world $7 trillion in damages

After seeing the smartphone app in action, Colonel Sanjay Srivastava, advisor-cum-project director of Jharkhand’s disaster management department, said the concept behind the app was impressive. “Ketan has come up with an innovative and impressive technological solution. We’re now trying to chalk out the specifics of how we can help support his work,” he said.

Singh, who was born and raised in Ranchi, studied at Kairali School and Delhi Public School before going on to fetch a degree in engineering (computer science) from the CV Raman Institute in Bhubaneswar. He has reportedly won a number of programming and idea generation awards at Topcoder, an international online competition platform, besides another for providing the best technological specifications for NASA’s upcoming document search engine.

Cyber Peace Foundation president Vinit Kumar, who also works as a cyber-security official with the Gujarat government, was optimistic about the app’s potential. “The technology appears promising, and I think it can definitely prove to be useful – given how it works on technologies that have already been adopted widely,” he said, adding that he was closely working with Singh to bring the technology to the masses.

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