Population Distribution Estimation of an Urban Area Using Crowd Sourced Data for Disaster Response

Samuel Lee Toepke, R. Scott Starsman


In the event of a disaster, high resolution knowledge of expected population distribution is a boon to the situational awareness of disaster managers and first responders. Knowing the expected locations of large throngs of people can greatly affect distribution of aid and response infrastructure. Effective dissemination of this information can be realized by using a myriad of readily available technologies.

With the modern proliferation of smart phones, pervasive Internet and freely available social media applications, population distribution can be estimated from the constant aggregation of crowd sourced data. Twitter and Instagram both publish geolocated data, which is then processed by a cloud-based, enterprise application to generate heat maps. The heat maps are then shown in a real-time geographic information system that is visible to any mobile device with a web browser. 

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