Quantifying information flow during emergencies

Recent advances on human dynamics have focused on the normal patterns of human activities, with the quantitative understanding of human behavior under extreme events remaining a crucial missing chapter. This has a wide array of potential applications, ranging from emergency response and detection to traffic control and management.

Much effort has been devoted to the study of human dynamics under regular and stationary situations. Our quantitative understanding of human behavior under extreme conditions, such as violent conflicts, life-threatening epidemic outbreaks, and other large-scale emergencies, remains limited however. Yet, it is essential for a number of practical problems faced by emergency responders. There is an extraordinary need, therefore, to quantitatively study human dynamics and social interactions under rapidly changing or unfamiliar conditions.

This study looks at real anomalous events using country-wide mobile phone data, finding that information flow during emergencies is dominated by repeated communications. It further demonstrats that the observed communication patterns cannot be explained by inherent reciprocity in social networks, and are universal across different demographics.

 

To read the full report: http://bit.ly/1hyG0eV