Content Marketing Blog

CSIRO program to analyse social media for disaster info

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed a way to utilise social media as part of early detection against disasters.

One of the tools, known as the Emergency Situational Awareness (ESA), monitors Facebook and Twitter feeds and detects conversations related to fires, storms or floods and the information is relayed to authorities.

The trial is being undertaken by the Department of Defence, the Queensland government and Geoscience Australia.

The communication advisor for the CSIRO, Arwen Cross, told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) that this has huge implications for how disasters are handled.

He commented: "People, who were driving past on the highway, albeit from a distance, were tweeting about it.

"And that happened before anyone thought to ring the fire brigade. It basically meant they could start looking at whether they needed to evacuate the hospital 20 minutes earlier than they would have if they'd been waiting for a phone call."

ESA detected the deadly train crash that occurred on November 3 in Melbourne's Dandenong South, which was the beginning of the implementation of this program.

Another monitoring tool, Vizie, will be able to examine conversation on a number of platforms and listen for speech that has political implications.

One of CSIRO's scientists who is leading the Vizie project suggested to the AAP that political groups can receive feedback by examining chatter regarding public opinion. He said Vizie differs from other tools that monitor media as government departments can actually respond to the users in a form of social media marketing.

The Commonwealth's Department of Human Services will be trialling Vizie, which has been in the works for the last three years.

Ms Cross assured the AAP that these programs will only analyse publicly available content.

She commented: "When you send out a tweet you know that the world is going to read it."

By Tim Wright