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ITA Spotlight of the Month, March/April 2020

Posted on 04/24/2020
App display on smart phone

ShakeAlertLA Mobile App

Have you downloaded the ShakeAlertLA mobile app? If you have, you are part of the 900,000 people using the nation’s first public app designed to provide earthquake early warning alerts.ShakeAlertLA improves safety and saves lives by sending out an alert to warn LA residents of 4.5+ magnitude earthquakes, giving people critical seconds to take proper actions.

This mobile app is based on a predictive model for providing up to 60 seconds of advance warning for major earthquakes in the greater Los Angeles area. ITA actually initiated this project back in 2016, with rapid development in 2018. From project management to technology leadership, many at the ITA have made this transformational project happen.

Mayor Eric Garcetti committed to deploy an earthquake early warning system to Angelenos via a mobile device by the beginning of 2019. In December 2017, the City released an RFP that was awarded to AT&T to prepare a state of the art, scalable mobile app that would be available to City employees and the general public to provide this warning and other critical information. This is the first of it’s kind app in the U.S., and was able to successfully deliver messages with less than 2 seconds of latency, which had never been done before. ITA designed the app, wrote the content, and managed the end-to-end project.

This app is using alerts from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ShakeAlert system of underground sensors along the West Coast. USGS, the Emergency Management Department, and the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety (MOPS) were involved with ITA in developing the content for the app, including information on how to prepare and be safe before, during, and after an earthquake. The app was launched in the Apple Store and Google Play in January 2019. Since then, we have made a number of updates to the app by incorporating user feedback to make this app more reliable, user-friendly, and robust. ShakeAlertLA helps Angelenos be safer before, during, and after an earthquake. In addition to the mobile app, we completed an early warning pilot with the LAFD public announcement system in City Hall, allowing the PA system to broadcast a warning message before an earthquake happens.

The ShakeAlertLA team’s current core members are Wayne Chan (Project Manager), Hunter Owens, Gio Maslog, Maryam Abbassi, and Jeanne Holm of ITA, and Neeraj Bhatnagar, Reuben Wilson, and Skyler Gray of MOPS. Special thanks to the tremendous support from Ted Ross and work from Kuljeet Arora, Kilay Maranon, Gladys Ledezma, Yissel Mejia, Lois Jackson, Cheryl Gibbs, Jayson Joseph, Ed Magos, Michelle Pham, and Vanessa Regalado, the LA CityView team, and across all Bureaus for being an integral part of this team. This mobile app has gained national recognition by winning a number of prestigious awards at the respective national, state and local level. The app was featured in the Alive newspaper and the LA Times. Kudos to everyone involved with this great project under the great leadership of the Mayor’s Office, a true team effort!

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