Twitter is being used increasingly by people who find themselves in the middle of a disaster to report what’s happening, who needs help, and the extent of damage. But when a disaster strikes, the volume of tweets can be overwhelming for anyone trying to monitor them.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization(CSIRO), Australia’s science agency, has come up with a systematic way of sifting through the 140-character messages and feeding important details to crisis coordination centers, which in Australia organize assistance from government agencies.
“Twitter provides a new source of data from which crisis coordinators can obtain awareness about developing situations,” says Mark Cameron, the project’s leader.
Cameron, along with researchers Andrew Lampert, Bella Robinson, and Jie Yin, wrote “Using Social Media to Enhance Emergency Situation Awareness,” published in the November/December issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems magazine.