A few months back Jon Gosier dropped by the Twitter offices in San Francisco to discuss the importance of Twitter as a resource for crisis mapping and humanitarian response community. For our own platform, Twitter often accounts for much of (if not most) of the dataset that groups deploying the Ushahidi platform will map. With it’s 190 million global users and 50 million tweets per day, Twitter has proven itself to be one of the most valuable (and accesible) real-time information sources.
Twitter for Disaster Response
The SwiftRiver project was, in fact, born out of the need to help Ushahidi users cull and curate data because of the overwhelming flood of data aggregated from sources like Twitter, SMS, Web feeds and email. Part of our mission is to make the process of mining these real-time information channels easier for the crisis response groups who need to sort actionable information from the ‘noise’ using the most efficient methods available.
Twitter’s Claire Diaz Ortiz (Manager of Philanthropic and Social Innovation) explains their company’s role in the disaster response community…
It is important to remember that mobile updates in disaster response not only serve to inform, but to provide direct aid as well. As in the Haiti earthquake and the floods in Pakistan, crisis-mapping tools that collate data received via SMS and other means and then plot it on interactive maps take a key role in connecting victims sending mobile updates with rescue workers and aid organizations who can offer help. This week here at Twitter HQ, we were happy to speak with Jon Gosier, Director of Product for SwiftRiver at Ushahidi. Organizations like Ushahidi build interactive mapping tools that democratize information, increase transparency and lower the barriers for individuals to share their stories.
First Responder is an Oxymoron
Below, Jon from Ushahidi’s SwiftRiver team explains how Twitter empowers first-responders, a word we’ve co-opted to refer to the survivors and victims of disaster as opposed to the groups who it traditionally refers to (paramedics, security etc.)