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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Earthquake's Epicenter?: Twitter

I listened to a fascinating discussion the other day on NPR regarding newly-found scientific uses of crowd-sourced data.

First, my pseudo-definition of crowd-sourcing:
- taking little bits of information from lots of individuals and smart devices, piecing it all together, and using the resulting set of data to make intelligent decisions.

One of the major crowd-sourcing developments is tracking earthquakes on Twitter. Scientists found that although not as accurate as seismographs, mining Twitter for specific keywords and phrases allow them to more quickly determine an earthquake's epicenter and magnitude. And I bet you thought Twitter was useless.

More crowd-sourcing action:
1. Google mines GPS-enabled phones for speed and computes road congestion
2. Google has helped the CDC track flu outbreaks faster than ever by combining search phrases with their geographic origin

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