IIT Roorkee launches India’s first Earthquake Early Warning Mobile App, “Uttarakhand Bhookamp Alert”
Dehradun: On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, IIT Roorkee launched an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) Mobile App called “Uttarakhand Bhookamp Alert”. The application is available in two versions, compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. The project was sponsored by Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA), since the Uttarakhand region is the most seismically active and prone to earthquakes. The honourable Chief Minister of Uttarakhand launched this lifeguarding app on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, at 11 am. It is a path-breaking achievement for the institute as it is the country’s first application for notifying people about earthquake alerts. The programme was initially launched as a pilot project only by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India for the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Given its success and the need of the region, the IITR’s EEW project proposal was further extended by Uttarakhand Government.
EEW is a real-time earthquake information system that can detect the onset of the earthquake and issue warnings before the significant tremors take hold of the state. The physical basis for an earthquake early warning system is the speed of the seismic waves, which propagate after the release of stress from faults movement. The strong ground shaking is caused by shear waves which travel at about half the speed of the primary waves and much slower than electromagnetic signals. The EEW system exploits this advantage.
Commenting on the launch, IIT Roorkee Director, Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, said, ” I take immense pride in sharing that IITR has designed an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) mobile app, for timely dissemination of the information regarding an earthquake occurrence in the neighbourhood and the expected time of arrival and intensity at the location to prevent any loss of life. The project had been specifically launched in tie-up with the Uttarakhand Government as the region is prone to seismic activities. As part of the project, sensors had been installed in the high terrains of the Garhwal and Kumaun region of the state. Seismic data stream in at the central server established in EEW System laboratory, CoEDMM, IIT Roorkee. High-speed telecommunication is used for data streaming, while high-performance computers quickly compute scenario projections. The central server processes the retrieved data continuously on 24 × 7 basis. The server issues the warning to the public as soon as it detects that an earthquake of magnitude greater than 5 has occurred in those areas where sensors are installed. Warning time varies with the distance of a location from epicenter of the earthquake.”
Describing the uniqueness of the mobile app, Prof. Kamal, Principal Investigator of the project mentioned that this is the only app in the world to record the location of the people who are unfortunately stuck somewhere during the earthquake and send this information to the Disaster Response Force.
Initially, IITR was helping the Uttarakhand government in installing pubic sirens in the two major cities (Dehradun and Haldwani) to alert people before the calamity hits the region. But given the limited time and resources to cover the entire state, the institute decided to switch from installing sirens to another medium to reach more people at the same time. Hence, observing the utility of the developed system, smartphone application emerged as a more viable option to pursue, as most people have a smartphone in the current times. Issuing the warning through these devices appeared to be a more effective plan to reach the masses in a relatively lesser time.
Therefore, IIT Roorkee developed a smartphone application for earthquake early warning dissemination. The information is sent out to the users through to app, advising them to evacuate and relocate before the damaging earthquake waves approach their dwellings through the app. For receiving an earthquake early warning, all a user has to do is install the app and fill in the necessary information during the installation process. This app contains informative videos to guide the user to follow the steps during the earthquakes to save themselves. This app gives an early warning of damaging earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5 originating in Uttarakhand only.
The warning would be issued to the public when the server estimates that the impending earthquake is damaging, while only notification would be issued for non-damaging earthquakes.
This app requires notification permission to be granted for receiving earthquake early warnings. This app also sends the current location in the SOS message, which requires location permission to be granted. It is advisable to allow location sharing with USDMA during app installation. In the case of an emergency, this location sharing helps the search and rescue team deliver service as soon as possible.
The app receives warning through the internet. Hence the users are requested to stay connected through the internet. The app uses data only during the earthquake notification.
Besides, the users are advised to go through the information regarding the steps required to be followed during an earthquake for their safety. The app also carries demonstrations for better understanding and preparedness of its users in times of emergency, along with several video links. The app can be downloaded either by scanning the QR code or from the play store (link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=govind.iitr.eews) or from app store (link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/uttarakhand-bhookamp-alert/id1570380724). The icon of the app is given below to recognize easily.