Abstract

This study investigates how people affected by the 2015 Ghorka earthquake sequence in Nepal have adopted and used the LastQuake smartphone application and associated Twitter robot, which offer rapid earthquake information focusing on felt and damaging earthquakes. It is shown that mobile devices played a key role in Nepal by providing access to earthquake information and that the LastQuake smartphone application was rapidly identified and adopted through viral spread after the mainshock. Thumbnail-based questionnaires, which have replaced online macroseismic questionnaires on the smartphone application and on the website for mobile devices, ease language barriers and have proven to be very efficient for collecting testimonies within a few tens of minutes of a felt-earthquake occurrence.

Offering rapid information on felt and damaging earthquakes is an effective strategy to engage with eyewitnesses and optimize the collection of eyewitnesses’ observations. The two-way and real-time communication channels that smartphones offer raises eyewitnesses’ expectations in terms of real-time information but also offer an opportunity to improve situation awareness and provide rapid and direct guidance to individuals immediately after shaking to contribute to risk reduction.

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