Quantifying information flow during emergencies

L. Gao, C. Song, Z. Gao, A.-L. Barabasi, J. P. Bagrow, D. Wang
Scientific Reports
4, 1-6 (2014).
February 6, 2014

Abstract

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. Previous studies have shown that human communications  are both temporally and spatially localized following the onset of  emergencies, indicating that social propagation is a primary means to  propagate situational awareness. We study real anomalous events using  country-wide mobile phone data, finding that information flow during  emergencies is dominated by repeated communications. We further demonstrate  that the observed communication patterns cannot be explained by inherent  reciprocity in social networks, and are universal across different  demographics.

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