China: Chinese version of Google, Baidu is using queries asked on its maps service to predict areas where overcrowding may put people to the risk of fatal accidents. In a paper titled “Early Warning of Human Crowds Based on Query Data from Baidu Map: Analysis Based on Shanghai Stampede,” three Baidu researchers lay out an approach of using the big data to give early warnings about potential crowd disasters 1-3 hours in advance.
The mechanism is already being used by Chinese city planners in dealing with transportation, facilities, and shops; however, it is now that the data can be used in public safety interest. So far, the traditional method of crowd monitoring was done through video sensors and computer vision technology. But since the approach is vulnerable to oversensitivity to noise, the researchers have proposed a new approach that uses map query data (date, time, and destination) and positioning data (date, time, and geographical position).
“I think the interesting question is the trade-off between community safety and individual privacy or government control,” Sandy Pentland, a professor at MIT’s Media Lab, said in a report. “In our data many of the spontaneous crowd events turned out to be protests and riots. Given that we can predict such events, will the government try to suppress political expression?”
Source: Digital Trends