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Study: Social Media is Already an Effective Tool During Disaster Events

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Twitter might be faster at tracking disasters than human models

While jokes about social media only being good for sharing pet videos will likely live on for quite some time, there's also new evidence that social media is already a highly useful tool during natural disasters.

A recent report from Science Advances detailed recent research that analyzed Twitter activity during recent disaster events and discovered that Twitter might already be faster at predicting ground damage immediately following a disaster than human models.

Social media is proving to have real utility during disasters

According the research, analysis of data revealed that large social media networks can be utilized to quickly assess the level of damage inflicted by a large-scale disaster.

For example, when examining Twitter data from Hurricane Sandy, researched found correlations between damage caused by the hurricane, Twitter activity, and the average sentiment of relevant tweets.

Social media and the future of relief efforts

The study concluded that social media can bring multiple benefits to a region when disaster strikes, including bringing increased situational awareness, allowing easy dissemination of emergency information, and facilitating the coordination of relief efforts.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.