On Monday the 14th November, just after midnight, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked New Zealand, shaking up the capital city of Wellington and wreaking havoc in the coastal town of Kaikoura. We took to Signal to see who was tweeting about the quake on the #EQNZ hashtag, and found some great examples of how open source intelligence can be useful for disaster response teams.
The scale of the disaster
To give you an idea of the scope of the disaster, in the 12 hours from 6am to 6pm on Tuesday, Geonet recorded 313 quakes, bringing the total since the initial earthquake to 1,212.
Initially considered a magnitude 7.5 shock, it was later upgraded to a 7.8 – making it the largest earthquake in NZ since the 7.8 Dusky Sound quake of July 2009.
While Wellington residents were being advised to stay out of the city, Kaikoura residents were trapped in their town due to landslides blocking the road.
Who was talking about the earthquake online?
#EQNZ tweets globally (First 24hrs):
#EQNZ tweets in New Zealand (First 24hrs):
#EQNZ Tweets for Wellington (First 24hrs):
So, what should Emergency Services have been doing?
1. Searching for Cries for Help:
2. Monitoring for Misinformation or Trolling:
3. Being Situation Aware:
4. Monitoring Worldwide Media Sources from Internationally Reputable Publishers:
5. Monitor what is being said by complementary disaster response agencies:
6. Monitor what local news channels are saying:
7. Monitor Public Service Announcements and what's being communicated to the public:
As you can see from the above, the aftermath of the earthquake was played out online from many different aspects. Without access to all of this chatter, Emergency Services are missing key puzzle pieces of 'the bigger picture'.