27 Jul '12, 11am

When disaster strikes, Twitter might save us

When disaster strikes, Twitter might save us

Storm clouds boil over New York City. (Photo by Adnan Islam.) In an increasingly disaster-prone world, where terms like “climate refugee” and “environmental evacuee” are becoming commonplace, figuring out how, when, and why people respond to extreme weather is essential for preparing for the next calamity. Luckily, researchers are on it. They’re designing ways to mine emails, cell signals, check-ins, and tweets for insights into how people will react to the next hurricane, heat wave, or city-swallowing derecho. When a city is destroyed, keeping up with its fleeing residents is no small task, says Linus Bengtsson , a medical doctor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Some go to refugee camps, he says, but others hunker down in the ruins while many scatter to the four winds. Those not in the camps “are not really visible,” Bengtsson says. As a result, they miss out on ...

Full article: http://grist.org/cities/when-disaster-strikes-twitter-mig...

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