US Scientists Use Twitter to Track Earthquakes

When earthquakes strike, government agencies and research centers in the United States receive urgent messages from an unusual source - the popular social network Twitter.

The US Geological Survey seismologists have been collaborating with social media companies for over 6 years. Result? More accurate information on natural disasters. Even if an earthquake occurs in an area where there are no seismic sensors, the received signal helps American scientists track the consequences of the destructive element.

These short messages are called Emergency Dispatch. Twitter described the program on one of its blogs last Wednesday, which was well received by the US government and academia.

The principle of the program is as follows. The US Geological Survey is funding Twitter's connection to its database. The program automatically filters messages from 316 million of its active users and in case of information about earthquakes, it immediately notifies the relevant federal structures.

Its effectiveness is evidenced by an incident that occurred last year. Seismic sensors in California recorded 5 weak aftershocks, which the Geological Survey immediately reported on its website. But when one of its leading seismologists, Paul Earle, turned to Twitter, he found nothing unusual for such situations there.

As it turned out, in reality there was no earthquake. Summing up what happened, Paul Earle noted:

“This is the whole point. The data from the social network is completely independent and represents a kind of secondary verification. "