Mining the mobile phone data from 10 million people over 4 years reveals the subtle changes that occur in the flow of information when disaster strikes, say network scientists.
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In particular, they studied the communications behaviour or two groups of people. The first consists of people close enough to the emergency event to be directly influenced by it. The second are the group of people called by the first group, presumably made up largely of close friends and relatives.
Since the question Liang and co want to examine is how the communication behaviour of both groups change during the emergency, they also study how people behave in ordinary circumstances, such as during a concert.
When an emergency occurs, there is an immediate spike in activity from the first group as they call or text their friends and relatives about the situation. At the same time, the activity of the second group also spikes.
Liang and co conclude that the need for correspondence with eyewitnesses is more critical than the dissemination of situational awareness during emergencies.” In other words, the desire to want to find out more trumps the need to pass on what they already know. At least in emergency situations.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1401.1274: Quantifying Information Flow During Emergencies