Earthquake Warning Systems

As many JETs have realized, many cell phones are equipped with an earthquake notification service, which did a very good job at startling many people at 4 a.m. last Saturday. This is thanks to the Earthquake Early Warning service was started by the Japanese Meteorological Agency and went into service in 2007.

While newer cell phone series include this warning system automatically (Softbank’s Web site said it is including it in all cell phones from summer 2010 and on), many older cell phones do not have this feature installed automatically. But, you can sign up for notification text messages via Yahoo! Keitai and here’s how.

  1. Turn on your Yahoo! Keitai service.
  2. Click the button “災害用伝言板” in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  3. Select the “English” option on the screen.
  4. Select “Setup Auto Notify.”
  5. Register your cell phone’s e-mail address and any other personal e-mail address you wish (up to three) and Click “OK.”
    CAUTION: Only e-mail addresses can be registered, DO NOT register your phone number.

For iPhone users, there’s a free iPhone app called “ゆれくるコール” available in the Japanese iTunes store and called “Yurekuru Call” in other international iTunes stores.

These systems aren’t 100 percent accurate and there’s a grumbling in the Japanese keitai blogs about many people not receiving warnings from their cell phones about earthquakes until AFTER they hit. However, the warning system did alert television viewers in the Tokyo area about Friday’s earthquake seconds before shaking was felt so there’s no reason not to be optimistic about the potential of these notifications in the future.

Learn more about the Earthquake Early Warning service on the JMA Web site.

–Melanie

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