Public earthquake early warning systems have the potential to reduce individual risk by warning people of approaching tremors, but their development has been hampered by costly infrastructure. Furthermore, both users’ understanding of such a service and their reactions to actual warnings have been the topic of only a few surveys. The smartphone app of the Earthquake Network initiative utilizes users’ smartphones as motion detectors and provides the first example of a purely smartphone‐based earthquake early warning system, without the need for dedicated seismic station infrastructure and operating in multiple countries. We demonstrate that this system has issued early warnings in multiple countries, including for damaging shaking levels, and hence that this offers an alternative to conventional early warning systems in the foreseeable future. We also show that although warnings are understood and appreciated by users, notably to get psychologically prepared, only a fraction take protective actions such as “drop, cover, and hold.”

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