QuakeWatch app top of the charts

Townsville Bulletin - - NQ Life -

WHILE work­ing as a programmer for Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios in Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia, two years ago, T e r e n c e Worl e y f e l t t h e ground rum­ble and shake.

‘‘ I reached for my phone to see how close the quake was, and how big. But there wasn’t an easy way to get this in­for­ma­tion,’’ he says.

That night, he wrote his first ap­pli­ca­tion for the iPhone, called QuakeWatch, de­signed to track and send warn­ings about earth­quakes based on US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey data and other feeds.

The App Store down­load, now with an av­er­age user rat­ing of 4.5 stars out of 5, also uses the smart­phone’s GPS to cal­cu­late the user’s dis­tance from the epi­cen­tre. Users can share this in­for­ma­tion with t h e i r s o c i a l n e t wo r k o n Face­book or Twit­ter from within the app.

‘‘ At any given time you can have a wealth of in­for­ma­tion at your fin­ger­tips, which can be in­cred­i­bly use­ful dur­ing a time of cri­sis,’’ says Wor­ley. The 99c QuakeWatch app ( also avail­able for the iPad) has rock­eted to the top of the paid news apps charts in the US, UK, Canada and other coun­tries.

Other apps are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sim­i­lar surge in down­loads.

Disas­ter Alert, a free app for iOS de­vices ( iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) and Google’s An­droid plat­form, has about 3500 down­loads a week on av­er­age.

That num­ber tripled af­ter the events in Ja­pan, along with an ad­di­tional 12,000 d o w n l o a d s f o r t h e n e w An­droid ver­sion.

Disas­ter Alert pro­vides in­stant ac­cess to global ‘‘ ac­tive h a z a r d s ’ ’ , i n c l u d i n g tsunamis, cy­clones, hurri- canes, ty­phoons, earth­quakes and vol­ca­noes. It serves as a m o b i l e v e r s i o n o f t h e gov­ern­ment-funded Pa­cific Disas­ter Cen­tre.

B e c a u s e D i s a s t e r Al e r t mon­i­tors mul­ti­ple agen­cies in real time, PDC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ray Shirkho­dai says in­for­ma­tion can be seen in the app up to 30 min­utes be­fore main­stream me­dia.

‘‘ Last Fri­day, for ex­am­ple, we re­ceived a thankyou from some­one in Hawaii who was able to fill up their tank be­fore any­one else knew about the tsunami,’’ he says.

An­other app, Disas­ter Alert ( Black­Berry), lets you ac­cess in­for­ma­tion about world­wide nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and dis­plays your lo­ca­tion on a map in re­la­tion to the disas­ter area.

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