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Twitter Can Predict Hurricane Damage As Well As Emergency Agencies ( 19

sciencehabit quotes an article from In October 2012, meteorologists noticed a massive low-pressure system forming over the waters south of Cuba. In just 5 days, it spun into one of the largest hurricanes on record, cutting a path up the eastern U.S. coast and devastating communities with flooding and 140-kilometer-per-hour winds. Superstorm Sandy posed a massive problem for government clean-up crews. Where should they send their limited emergency supplies and services? A new study suggests a way to get that answer fast: Just listen to Twitter. Scientists have found that data gathered from the social media platform is as accurate and powerful as that collected by FEMA.
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Twitter Can Predict Hurricane Damage As Well As Emergency Agencies

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  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @12:14AM (#51683047)
  • Gee, a centralized place where people can easily post short catalogable messages provides valuable data about events. I thought Twitter was exclusively about narcissism.

  • "Where should they send their limited emergency supplies and services?... Just listen to Twitter"
    but if during emergency, twitter is inaccessible to certain locations and accessible to others, such a selection of response based on twitter will skew the response to those who have access.
    furthermore if certain community/neighborhood have more social media usage and another less, it will also skew the response.

    • if during emergency, twitter is inaccessible to certain locations and accessible to others ...

      In an emergency, one of the top priorities should be to get communications working. Drones with cell repeaters should be sent in as soon as the storm passes, and the phone companies should be able to let FEMA know which cell towers are not functioning. Cell towers are rugged, and they have backup batteries, so unless there was an EMP, most should be functioning.

      • by darkain ( 749283 )

        The example was Cuba though. While cell towers may be rugged, how rugged is the back-haul network to support them? Just because a cell tower has battery backed power, and a cell phone can communicate with it, doesn't mean that the cell tower can still communicate with the back-haul network and/or internet. This is one of the situations where satellite phones becomes invaluable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is what Ham radio operators and R.A.C.E.S. exists for. Ham radio operators were the first to re-establish ground communications during hurricane Sandy and Katrina. Ham radio operators are so effective R.A.C.E.S. is actually folded under a leg of FEMA.

        We test our gear on a yearly basis during Field Day. We try and make as many contacts across the US as possible with as little power as possible using various communication methods over long wave radio (20M, 40M, 80M, 160M) .Be it generator, battery, solar

    • Yes, but the data is right there. These days, if data is easily available but inaccurate, they'll take the faulty data anytime. When it's pointed out that the data is lacking, they'll say, "oh well, them's the breaks, it's easier than actually doing work" and go on like nothing happened.
  • 12 hours max, if the airport is closed. It only requires a lot of people, airplanes, and trucks to deliver. And we got plenty, all over the country. It's a simple question how much you want to spend and how fast.

    And I can predict hurricane damage without Twitter. If you build your house out of concrete, above sea level, I'll bet odds it will stay intact. The biggest problem is frailty of the infrastructure, shoddy construction, etc. You got insurance, right? :-)

  • further to what i said above about access bias during emergency, i see another problem if twitter is used to channel public resources.

    recently twitter established orwellian sounding "trust & safety council" to monitor, censor, and even ban, users who engage in hate speech and other such activities. it has already controversially banned some.
    now twitter's actions/censorships/banning within its property can be justified because it is a private company . but public institutions selecting and channeling pu

  • Twitter at 140 KPH? Keystrokes Per Human.

  • It won't stop the insurance agencies from ruling wind damage as water damage (and vice versa) to skip out of claims.

  • Now FEMA will know which disaster to ignore even more rapidly.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Saturday March 12, 2016 @06:44AM (#51683825)

    Didn't we read the same thing a dozen times already during the years?

    Twitter, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Altavista, Hotbot, CompuServe, ... can predict Hurricanes, the flu, tsunamis, bad weather ...

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas