Twit­ter not ef­fi­cient tool in dis­as­ters: Re­searchers

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Canada/world -

A study that an­a­lyzed nearly 70,000 tweets sent in the thick of the Fort Mcmur­ray wild­fire shows smart­phone emer­gency apps don’t pro­vide much of the in­for­ma­tion peo­ple need dur­ing a dis­as­ter.

Malek­naz Nayebi, a doc­toral can­di­date at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary’s Schulich School of En­gi­neer­ing, re­calls go­ing on­line in May 2016 to fig­ure out how she could help more than 80,000 peo­ple flee­ing the flames in north­ern Al­berta. She re­al­ized many evac­uees were flock­ing to so­cial me­dia for help.

“As lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions went off the air and web­sites failed, so­cial me­dia be­came the cri­sis’ un­of­fi­cial emer­gency broad­cast sys­tem,” re­searchers wrote.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff for the Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Wood Buf­falo’s Twit­ter ac­count were praised for putting out a steady flow of in­for­ma­tion through­out the dis­as­ter.

But Nayebi, the study’s lead au­thor, said an­swers to spe­cific ques­tions were easily missed in the del­uge of Twit­ter traf­fic.

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