Did you ever notice how the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan was flashed first on Twitter? Even if you didn’t, then you’d taken aback to know how one of the most active social media platform- Twitter was the first to know and report the same, before the US Government organization was monitoring it.
Yes, it has been recently come across that merely using tweets, scientists can now detect the onset of earthquakes within 29 seconds only. The following tweet says it all:
Using only tweets, scientists can now detect earthquakes in 29 seconds flat http://t.co/oHCx2Wydzy
— Quartz (@qz) October 8, 2015
It won’t be incorrect to say that such news is updated with immediate effect on several social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter etc. As the case mentioned above, similar kind of a devastating earthquake struck Nepal this year itself and it was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet via which Nepal’s Prime Minister got to know about it. Hence, undoubtedly, Twitter is much faster in updating news pertaining to earthquakes. The aforesaid two instances are the live examples of this concept.
It is worth noticing a fact that the US Geological Survey (USGC) has got as many as 2,000 earthquake sensors located across the world, however; majority of these are based in the US only. This is the reason why USGS is hindered to monitor the earthquakes in other parts of the world. In response to this boundation, USGS has finally paired up with Twitter.
Over millions of users access the most leveraged upon social media platform- Twitter so as to report about Earthquakes. However, it must be ensured that the data that is presented is filtered and fine-tuned such that it is useful. After analyzing the tweets on earthquakes, USGS reported that those tweets wers short and also experienced that those tweeting links were less likely to be users experiencing the earthquake firsthand.
Using Twitter data, USGS system is now able able to pick up on an aftershock in Chile within one minute and 20 seconds – and it only took 14 Tweets from the filtered stream to trigger an email alert. The other two earthquakes, off Easter Island and Indonesia, weren’t picked up because they were not widely felt.
Future plans for USGS team are to determine if they can drop Twitter data based detections into seismic algorithms, and if that can speed up alerts even more.