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

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid