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Michael Leidig
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  • floods
  • technology
  • weather
Mon, 10.06.2013
pte20130610017 Science/Technology, Environment/Energy
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Facebook & Co could help during natural catastrophes
A programme could use social media to help manage natural catastrophe crisis

Vienna (pte017/10.06.2013/15:07) - Researchers from Graz in Styria (Austria) are currently developing a programme to use information published publically on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to improve crisis management in the event of natural catastrophes.

Georg Thallinger, the project leader, and his team from the Joanneum Research institute in the Styrian capital believe that the material published on these sites can assist in quickly determining where help is urgently needed and where to deploy rescue teams.

The news of this new research comes only days after the end of the severe floods in many parts of Austria. There were photos posted on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ almost every second. Details of water levels, mud streams were also posted on these websites by users all across Austria.

Project leader Thallinger said the programme was still in the test-phase. He said: "Information is grouped and ordered geographically as far as is possible. It will also be used to gain information that is not usually available on normal channels, such as news of mudslides in particular locations, and news of where exactly how many people are affected."

The automated system searches through social media websites for keywords such as "mudslides" or "water levels" and lists results of that search.

A Viennese company will be in charge of filtering the text material, while the institute Graz-researchers will filter through photos and videos. Only material made available publically to all users will be used.

The Austrian defence ministry and the Red Cross have entered a partnership for this project. In their opinion, any additional information is useful. The rescue services are now fully aware that cries for help are communicated by way of social media before the alarm is properly raised.

According to the Joanneum Research institute, the programme could be introduced in the next year or so.

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Contact: Michael Leidig
Phone: +43 (0)1 917 51 18
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