During emergency situations like severe weather or terrorist attacks, local officials and first responders have an urgent need for accessible, reliable and real-time data.
Rob Grace, a doctoral student in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), and his colleagues at the Center for Crisis, Community, and Civic (3C) Informatics are working to address this need by introducing a new method for identifying local social media users and collecting the information they post during emergencies.
In addition to Grace, the research team includes IST doctoral students Scott Pezanowski, Shane Halse and Prasanna Umar.
This approach can help to support situational awareness among officials as well as more effectively share important information with local citizens, such as evacuation routes and status updates regarding critical infrastructure like water and power.
Grace recently presented his research findings at the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) conference in Albi, France.
Officials now informally use social media to access information about their communities, yet they often lack technological capacities to access the information they are seeking.