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Data in Disasters—the Potential and the Limits

Speaker  Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Eytan Adar, and Leysia Palen

Affiliation  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Microsoft Research, University of Colorado

Host  Kate Crawford

Duration  01:12:07

Date recorded  15 July 2013

There has been a rapid expansion in the ability to gather and analyze communication data during acute events. As we saw most recently during Hurricane Sandy, people use social media services like Twitter and Facebook to share a range of personal information: be it their location, their health, the status of power and water access, or images of the disaster in their neighborhood. Fields such as crisis informatics and machine learning have brought powerful new insights to how communities deal with crises by drawing on this data. However, there are also causes for concern, such as the privacy and longevity of that data, and the invisibility of the many people and communities that are either not using social media or are living in areas with damaged or overwhelmed ICT infrastructure.

This session of the 2013 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit explores research avenues for disaster data, including the difficulties with the reliability of citizen accounts of disaster, issues with privacy and information sharing during disasters, and the hidden biases of disaster data and what it cannot capture.

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