by Ryne Hager, Android Police

How does Android’s new Earthquake Alerts System work? In short: As quickly and reliably as possible, according to the project’s lead engineer, Marc Stogaitis. And on July 23rd, plenty of people in the Philippines appreciated it when Google successfully detected a magnitude 6.7 earthquake-in-progress, alerting residents and helping many reach safety before it hit them.

It started life at a hackathon

You might not be aware of it, but earthquakes have killed over 800,000 people worldwide in the last 20 years, according to USGS estimates. Google’s new feature isn’t just fascinating on a technical level (and we’re about to dive in and show you just how interesting it all is), but it will also have a much more real impact of saving lives as it rolls out to more countries over time. It’s heavy stuff, to be sure, but it’s also pretty cool to geek out over the minutiae behind how it works and how the idea came to be. I bet most of you weren’t expecting it to have started life at a hackathon.

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