QuakeWatch app top of the charts
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.