A Web-based crowdsourcing application developed by a team at the University of Virginia could be used to provide the public with critical information in the event of a catastrophe.
The tool enables people to quickly disseminate detailed and chronological information about an event, and allows other users to view it. The researchers were inspired by School of Medicine faculty, who were interested in a tool that would provide assistance in managing a potential disaster within the community, such as a bioterrorism attack.
Users would be able to submit reports that contain headlines, the nature of the incident, location and time, and photos, among other details, through a Web site or by email. The reports would be embedded on a Google map to identify the affected area, highlighted by a marker and a short description.
A key feature is the ability to send mass alerts via email and text messages to the tool's users. "When disaster strikes, the media can announce the Web address of the crowdsourcing software so citizens can participate in the crisis recovery by submitting reports of what they observe," says professor Alfred Weaver.
The team is still working on ways to help ensure the reliability of submitted information.
From UVA Today
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