Madrid, Spain: Researchers at the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), Spain, developed a tool, eStorys. It allows people to retrieve georeferenced images uploaded on the social networking website, place them on maps and organise them as a comic book, to create a visual perspective of a particular story, as a crisis or emergency. UC3M scientists created the system in collaboration with the University of Rome (Italy).
The tool aims to help professionals involved in emergency management to obtain data and images to understand how citizens perceive such situations and detect faults and areas for improvement. Paloma Diaz, Professor of the Department UC3M Informatics explained, “It’s a tool to explore and study emergency situations during the mitigation phase, to learn and improve response plans and establish better ways to prepare for the citizens.”
The project facilitates the search of photographs hanging on World-Wide-Web around a specific topic, for a period of time or a specific location. After that, the application allows the images to place on maps by their geographic coordinates and screen of most interest to the user. The result is a digital story that can be shared with other Internet and composing a visual summary that helps to understand or document a particular situation.
This platform has also been evaluated through interviews with emergency management professionals in British Columbia (Canada) and the state of Washington (EEUU). “The results suggest that governmental agencies prefer to approach the social networks through more restricted communities, practice communities or special interest communities, so that the credibility of the information can guaranteed,” commented Paloma Díaz. “The lack of reliability of the information found on the social networks continues to be one of the greatest impediments to their being incorporated into the process of emergency management,” she concluded.