USGS, Google make earthquake info more accessible


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Google has teamed up with the U.S. Geological Service to bring English speakers everywhere accurate and fast details about earthquakes.

Immediately following an earthquake, people can search for “earthquake,” “earthquake near me” or other similar queries on their devices and get up to the minute information about tremors in their vicinity, rather than a generalized search result.

The search result will also provide “a summary of the size of the quake, a map of the affected areas, and tips to safely navigate the aftermath,” Google wrote in a blog about the new feature.

“Oftentimes, you really want to know whether you just felt a small earthquake nearby, or a larger earthquake farther away,” Google software engineer Chris Keitel wrote in the post. “The map will show areas that shook with various intensities (known as a shakemap), so you’ll be able to quickly assess the reach of the earthquake as well as its epicenter.”

That data, provided through the Google search interface, comes from the USGS. 

“Google has been using and providing USGS earthquake information for a while now, more than a decade I would say. Originally that was through an RSS feed and then subsequently through a Common Alerting Protocol feed,” William Leith, senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards at USGS, told FedScoop. “We make those feeds available to everyone, and Google has just been partnering with us for quite a number of years.”

In the past, Google has used the data to provide alerts about earthquakes.

“Ensuring that our earthquake information gets to the people who need it is very important to the U.S. Geological Survey, and we are pleased that Google is finding creative approaches to help make that happen,” Leith said in a statement. 

For now, only Google searches in English will trigger this feature. 

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