When Mount Vesuvius erupted almost 2,000 years ago, it took hours for a single message from Pompeii to reach rescuers 18 miles away. Today we have the opposite problem during disasters: too much rapid information from many sources, with consequences just as fatal for some people.
Engineers at the University of California, Riverside are working to change this with a tool that searches real-time text, photo and video from social media and surveillance cameras alongside data from sensors, like fire detectors and security alarms. With the tool, for example, firefighters could search the terms “fire” and crowds” in a particular location and time and receive data from multiple sources.
The research, supported by a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant, aims to develop a single search interface across all potential sources. The group’s goal is to make a functional tool—a website similar to Google—that can search keywords.