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Cell Phones Used By Researchers to Track Disasters


Cell phones are able to be utilized by organizations for the tracking of people that are fleeing from natural disasters and then make the determinations on how emergency aid can be most effectively targeted. This is just one example of how there can actually be some positive outcomes from cell phone tracking data.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Columbia University, mapped movements through the location data from approximately 2-million cell phones in the days immediately after the disaster struck.

The scientists asked Digital, the largest cellular network in Haiti, for anonymous user information about the cell phone towers which served Haitian cell phones. Within the first three weeks of the disaster, estimates are that approximately 600,000 Haitians left Port au Prince, the nation’s capital.

The information that came from this study matched up very closely with studies that were similar in nature from the U.N. that were released shortly after the earthquake happened. The information may very well prove invaluable in future emergencies in order to rapidly isolate where people head after a disaster hits. This will be invaluable due to the fact that relief supplies can quickly get to those that need it and valuable information can quickly get to the coordinators of emergency aid.

Furthermore, the data from the mobile phones helped the rescue workers in Haiti to both pinpoint current outbreaks of cholera, but also predict new areas of potential outbreak. This will allow the officials the ability to provide information on all of the increased risk areas for new outbreaks.

There are a lot of people that are quite optimistic about this study, for the main reason that the method of cell phone tracking is something that’s usable virtually anywhere in order to identify movements in population. The reason for this is due to the fact that 86% of the population in the world has cell network access. There are researchers that are establishing an organization (non-profit) in order to conduct further studies following any natural disaster.

Researchers can get help from users as well by using a tool that’s web-based, called Open Paths. Open Paths is a tool which allows users to securely, and anonymously, donate their Apple device data to disaster preparedness studies, as well as studies in, land use surveys, epidemiology and transportation.

It’s through this study that the positive effects of location tracking data can be used, and used for making a real difference in helping people. This comes at a time when the majority of all the reports and articles on location tracking highlight how the capability is most often used for efforts of commercial, and even for law enforcement use.

Related posts:

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  4. Bill Gates Wants to Use Mobile Phones to Track Vaccines for Babies
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  6. Cell Phones May Cause Heart Irregularities
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  8. Mobile Phone Donations, a Game of Bait And Switch?
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  10. Smartphone Applications Track Your Kids on Halloween

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