Researchers to scan social media use during disasters

Last Updated 15 December 2014, 07:04 IST

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Ohio-based Kent State University $300,000 grant to study public responses to disaster warnings and alerts across social media.

"The outcomes yielded from this research will assist in better designing and implementing disaster warnings and alerts as well as more efficient disseminating communications of political messages via social media and social networks," said assistant professor Xinyue Ye from Kent State's department of geography.

The team plans to collaborate with the San Diego Office of Emergency Services (OES) to create a prototype platform using social media to study how people respond and react to messages warning of inclement weather, earthquakes, wildfires, disease outbreaks and evacuation orders.

"The study may also allow government agencies to communicate more effectively to the public and be better prepared for both natural and human-made crises," Ye noted.

The social media analytic tools developed by this group will be able to calculate how these messages are disseminated online and in social media and the outcomes of the referendum votes.

While most users of social networks are millennials, the researchers want to make sure that older generations are included as well.

"We will try to reach out to the health providers and caregivers to introduce our social media channels and platform to people in senior communities, nursing homes and health centers," said Ye.

Another goal of their project is to bridge the gap between the different generations by encouraging young people to participate in society in a more meaningful way.

"We hope through this project and the volunteer platform, we can encourage these young people to play a more active and important role in our society," the authors said.

The grant is part of a $999,887 collaboration with San Diego State University and the University of Arkansas.

(Published 15 December 2014, 07:04 IST)

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