EmerGent One of the most significant sources of Big Data is social media: a continuous feed of unstructured, unvalidated, near real-time information about what people are experiencing.

When a large city undergoes a crisis, such as a flood, earthquake or riots, masses of valuable information pours into social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The emergency services have no established methods of monitoring and filtering this data or integrating the results into crisis management.

As part of the European EmerGent project, OCC is developing a cloud-based emergency management service to gather and mine social media during large-scale crises.

The service will be able to take the stream of social media surrounding a large-scale event and transform it into a data source that is relevant, self-consistent and actionable.

According to a US Red Cross survey, social media is already the fourth greatest source of information in a crisis and is readily available for computing systems to capture and analyse.

But how do we quickly process terabytes of data? How can we parse text with misspellings and in different languages? Will we come up with false information (as happened in the London riots)? How do we present information so that it is readily understood? How do we maintain citizen confidentiality within privacy legislation?

To answer questions like these, OCC is building on the data mining tools and techniques for text-based analysis and mapping developed during the REACT project. We are the EmerGent partner responsible for ensuring that all data is used within European Data Protection Laws.

Beyond the project, OCC will be assisting the emergency services in integrating social media information within incident management. We will also be seeking other opportunities where the technology can benefit governments and industry.

The EmerGent project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 608352.