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In this paper we will describe an open architecture for detecting earthquakes using the built in accelerometers available in some mobile phones. Although the idea of building a network of accelerometers for this application is not new, we will take an iterative approach starting with a prototype which exhibits some core functionality. Key questions include: what level of sophistication is required to be confident of the architecture and how does this conflict with the limitations of the mobile device and the network used? By examining these questions and evaluating results from our prototype we hope to build further iterations which increase the chances of generating an accurate alert.