ShakeAlertLA Getting New Updates After Failing to Notify Residents of Shaking

Posted August 15, 2019, under Blog

The Los Angeles earthquake notification app, ShakeAlertLA, is getting some much-needed updates.

The app, which was developed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the U.S. geological Survey, failed to notify Los Angeles residents of the Fourth of July earthquake (and the subsequent quakes that followed).

ShakeAlertLA, which is supposed to detect earthquakes ranging in a 5.0 magnitude or higher, didn’t pick up the 6.4 and 7.1 temblors near Ridgecrest, CA in Kern County even though the shaking was felt in Los Angeles.

As a result, city officials announced Wednesday that they’ve lowered the apps quake radar to a 4.5 magnitude.

“There were no glitches,” USGS seismologist Robert Graves said at the time of the earthquake, while also noting that the ShakeAlertLA system provided 48 seconds of warning to the seismology lab well before the shaking arrived to their Caltech facility in Pasadena.

Because the epicenter of the quake was outside of Los Angeles county, the app registered the quake and its aftershocks below a 5.0 magnitude.

For now, the early warning mechanism only works in Los Angeles. If you have the ShakeAlertLA app on your phone, it doesn’t need to be open to get the alerts, but the location service needs to always be on.

If you live in Los Angeles, having the app will help protect you from a large earthquake. ShakeAlertLA sends out alerts several seconds to one minute before the shaking will arrive to locations in LA outside of the epicenter.

Those few seconds are necessary for grabbing any children, pets and a few necessities before taking cover, in addition to stopping trains, triggering backup generators and halting surgeries at hospitals.

Officials are working to expand the apps sensors throughout California now that funding has officially been secured. Their goal is to get that leg of the app completed in the next two years.

In addition to downloading the app and following all safety precautions, you should have an earthquake emergency kit prepared with enough food, water and medications to last every person and pet in your household for at least three days.

And if you own an older home or building in California, chances are the property is lacking modern seismic reinforcements. Earthquake retrofitting will protect your property from damage and/or destruction during a large earthquake and ensure the safety of those who reside there.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors, earthquake retrofitting, and foundation repair. Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair and earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.


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