Skip to main content

San Diego’s ShakeAlert Mobile Phone Test Has Mixed Reviews

Most residents in San Diego should have received this message from ShakeAlert...

Credit: Courtesy of County of San Diego

Above: Most residents in San Diego should have received this message from ShakeAlert on Thursday, June 26, 2019.

Most San Diego residents should have received an earthquake alert on their cell phones Thursday morning. It came from ShakeAlert, California’s new earthquake warning system. And so far, reviews are mixed.

By Reporter Shalina Chatlani

San Diego residents should have received an earthquake alert on their cell phones Thursday morning — but some reported not receiving the alert at all.

You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego News Matters, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

San Diego State campus visitor Alex Kennedy was visiting with a church youth group from Arizona. He said normally, he wouldn’t have looked at the alert.

"I’m kind of used to some of these alerts every now and then. Maybe it’s an Amber alert — somebody got kidnapped or something. But I don’t really read (the alert), to be honest with you. So I’d look at it and put my phone down and that’s really it," Kennedy said.

ShakeAlert is like an Amber alert, but it uses sensors to detect when an earthquake has just happened. And it uses that to warn people before more damaging shaking arrives.

RELATED: ShakeAlert Earthquake Warning System to Sound Off In San Diego

But, Kennedy said since he’s from out of state, he's not used to earthquakes.

"If it says it’s an earthquake, I’m going to be a little skeptical and text some friends," Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, Ray Johnson, another SDSU visitor, said he liked the alert and was just happy he got any notification.

“I don’t think there’s one way that’s the best, but I think multiple ways is the best," Johnson said. "So the phone is an option for sure.”

California started developing ShakeAlert with the U.S. Geological Survey in 2016, and San Diego is the second place the state has tested the alert system. And now it’s collecting data to see what potential drawbacks the system could have.

For example, KPBS also received an email from another resident, who said she didn't receive the notification at all.

City officials said residents who weren't notified, or would like to report their experience can go to the Ready SanDiego website and fill out this survey.

Video: San Diego Reacts To Shake Alert

Reported by L. Matthew Bowler

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.