News / Science & Technology

US, Japanese Students Use Facebook, Twitter to Map Crisis Points

Rescuers conduct search operation amidst smoldering debris in Kesennuma, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Miho Ikeya) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
Rescuers conduct search operation amidst smoldering debris in Kesennuma, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Miho Ikeya) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
Sharon Behn

Students in the United States are working with others in Japan to gather urgent information from social networking websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to help create a map pinpointing crisis areas across the island nation.

Just hours after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan, students half-a-world away reacted. A group in Boston, in the northeastern U.S. state of Massachusetts, started going through thousands of Internet messages, trying to pull together a map of what was happening on the ground in Japan.

Student Robert Berry at Tufts University in Boston says their goal is to help the relief effort. "So it’s basically ‘crisis mapping.’ Mapping out the crisis for people on the ground, either victims or agencies that are going to respond so they have a better picture," he said.

People have been using this type of technology since political turmoil hit Kenya during its elections in 2008.  And it was used again in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and in Libya during its recent political upheaval.

Social Media: Disaster in Japan


The Crisis Commons volunteer community has mobilized, and part of the effort is being coordinated by Japanese students at U.S. universities.


The Red Cross has opened a page on causes.com to raise money for the victims of Friday's disaster in Japan.

For more on how you can help, visit http://bit.ly/gD8At1 and Time Out Tokyo.


Google has launched a service for people seeking to reconnect with those in the disaster area.


The State Department tweeted:
RT @TravelGov: U.S. citizens in #Japan can stay informed about current conditions in the region through #STEP: goo.gl/SdXk #tsunami

Berry describes what they are looking for in this disaster. "They see a fire at a hospital or they see people trapped under a building or something or they know that somebody is trapped there, what they can do assuming that they have the access, they can then tweet that information, and then we find it, bring it to the interface," he said.

In a tech-savvy country like Japan, Berry says the information his colleagues and Japanese counterparts are gathering is helping put together a more accurate picture, as well as a human face to the tragedy. "It brings the situation to you like never before," he said.

Leaders with Crisis Commons, a global network of computer users working in crisis response, say the students are part of a growing international community of volunteers who can quickly sift through large amounts of data to create comprehensive maps of information.

They say that within 24 hours of the Japan disaster there were 75 people around the world, including students at the American universities Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology putting together details on where people are, as well as the conditions of local roads and transportation.

You May Like

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Audio Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid