Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sterling Roberts
Observer Staff Writer 

ShakeAlertLA Backlash After Strong Earthquakes in LA

While ShakeAlertLA technically did what it was intended to do, there is plenty of backlash.

 

Searles Valley Earthquake

In what I thought would be a privatized business, ShakeAlertLA, which has been heavily criticized in the last few days, was actually created by the city of Los Angeles and its Mayor, Eric Garcetti. The app which is available on the App Store or Google Play ties into the national ShakeAlert system to inform users on earthquake activity.

The recent critiques that ShakeAlertLA has gotten has been in light of the two recent earthquakes in California, the 6.4 on July 4 and the 7.1 on July 5. The purpose of the app is to warn users when there is an earthquake, be able to provide help after an earthquake, and to be able to review information on past earthquakes. But, ShakeAlertLA users actually didn't receive warnings from the app before these recent incidents.

Searles Valley Earthquake

What users didn't know at the time of these criticisms is that the app actually worked just right. ShakeAlertLA is supposed to sense earthquakes of a magnitude of 5 or greater and then send alerts to users who could feel an intensity of 4 or greater. Note that magnitude is the actual strength of an earthquake and intensity is the strength that someone can feel in a particular region.

While ShakeAlertLA technically did what it was intended to do, there is plenty of backlash. The strongest argument is that many people didn't get an alert (there was a prediction that the intensity would be under 4) but they wanted one so they feel that the app is worthless. This is especially important because while the prediction for LA was an intensity under 4, parts of LA felt a 4.5.

In reaction to the backlash, ShakeAlertLA is going to adjust their system to send alerts for intensities of 3 or greater. There is also a possibility of them lowering the necessary magnitudes for alerts. This change should be implemented by the end of July by the city.

 

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