Public in the frontline, streaming disaster details

Jennifer Foreshew  |  From: The Australian   |  October 29, 2013 12:00 AM

THE convergence of mobile technologies and geographical data will create more opportunities for community members to contribute to emergency management, an international expert says.

Mobile phones can be used as “sensor hubs” that contribute to crowd-sourced crisis mapping in emergencies such as bushfires, earthquakes or political events.

“The standard smartphones now have up to 14 sensors so we can leverage this power of local sensing to contribute with volunteered geographic information to maps or other sorts of interfaces,” said Marta Poblet, an associate professor at RMIT University and an expert on crowd-sourced crisis mapping.

She said smartphones typically had a range of sensors including GPS receivers, gyroscopes, accelerometers and cameras.

“These sensors used on their own or combined between them or linked to other sensors that you can plug into your mobile allow you to produce great geographic information,” said Associate Professor Poblet, who delivered a keynote address at the RMIT Business Research Showcase.

“This convergence between mobile technology sensors and geographic data can help to make citizens much more engaged in contributing from the grassroots to emergencies, but also to other forms of monitoring such as the environment or our cities.”

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