”Crowdsourcing can help in monitoring disasters”

”Crowdsourcing can help in monitoring disasters”

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Spain: Scientist Manuel Garcia-Herranz and his team at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain have elaborated an approach how to most effectively use the social media channel Twitter in disaster situations. Their technique involves small groups of “highly connected Twitter users as ‘sensors’ to detect the emergence of new ideas. They point out that this works because highly connected individuals are more likely to receive new ideas before ordinary users.” To test their hypothesis, the team studied 40 million Twitters users who “together totted up 1.5 billion follows’ and sent nearly half a billion tweets, including 67 million containing hashtags.”

They found that small groups of highly connected Twitter users detect “new hashtags about seven days earlier than the control group. In fact, the lead time varied between nothing at all and as much as 20 days.” Manuel and his team thus argue that “there’s no point in crunching these huge data sets. You’re far better off picking a decent sensor group and watching them instead.” In other words, “your friends could act as an early warning system, not just for gossip, but for civil unrest and even outbreaks of disease.”

The second study, “Identifying and Characterizing User Communities on Twitter during Crisis Events,” is authored by Aditi Gupta and her colleagues. They analysed three major crisis events (Hurricane Irene, Riots in England and Earthquake in Virginia) “to identify different user communities, and characterise them by the top central users.” Their findings are in line with those shared by the team in Madrid. “[T]he top users represent the topics and opinions of all the users in the community with 81% accuracy on an average.” In sum, “to understand a community, we need to monitor and analyse only these top users rather than all the users in a community.”

Source: iRevolution