Google, Twitter to mine Internet disaster data

Kyodo

The Japanese units of U.S. Internet giant Google Inc. and social media Twitter said Wednesday they will analyze data circulated on the Internet after the devastating earthquake in March last year to explore ways to support disaster survivors more effectively.

The joint business, which will be launched soon by eight firms, including automaker Honda Motor Co., involves analyzing such data as information about evacuations, blackouts and traffic interruptions that were transmitted for about one week after the disaster, the companies said.

The move comes amid heightened expectations about effectively utilizing so-called big data, or large amounts of information transmitted from devices such as smartphones and car navigation systems, and recorded elsewhere.

Other companies taking part in the joint business include map information firm Zenrin DataCom Co., disaster information provider Rescuenow Inc. and news distribution company JCC Corp., while NHK and the daily Asahi Shimbun will also cooperate.

The companies will also call for researchers to take part in the project.

In the joint project, each company will bring their respective data and study how the information spread and how people reacted.

Immediately after the quake occurred, a large amount of information was transmitted from disaster-hit areas through the microblogging site Twitter, while a history of Internet searches remains on Google.

Zenrin’s data include the flow of people based on the GPS coordinates of their mobile phones, while Honda has accumulated travel information from its vehicles.

The companies plan to hold meetings this month and next and convene a session in late October, during which the results of their analyses will be presented, they said.