During a disaster it’s only natural that people flee for their lives, and they will flee to wherever as long as it gets them out of harm’s way. However in the aftermath, when the dust has settled, how do aid workers and rescue workers begin finding these people and begin administering medical aid or to be sure that everyone is safe? Well a new way is to use cellphones data to track these people down.
Sure, location tracking is a huge controversy right now, given how Microsoft was recently sued for allegedly collecting location data without the user’s knowledge, but in times of emergency it seems like data collected from cellphones will help aid and rescue workers determine where the affected victims are, and how they are moving about. Linus Bengtsson and his colleagues from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Columbian University have apparently come up with a way to mine the data collected quickly in order to estimate how the affected victims are moving.
This method was tested during a cholera epidemic that broke out, and through this method Bergtssen and his colleagues managed to start tracking the people in the affected areas who were moving to relief agencies, and all of this within 12 hours. Finally, a use for location data that isn’t just for marketing purposes!