CrisisTracker is a web-based platform dedicated to gathering information virtually from areas which are hard to access so that mass violence against civilians can be prevented in conflict-effected zones. CrisisTracker works by extracting information from tweets during a humanitarian disaster through combining automated processing with crowdsourcing therefore enabling itself to quickly collect information and derive evidence and detect new events.
CrisisTracker was designed by Portugal-based Swede Mr. Jakob Rogstadius during his PhD studies and is an open source online platform which works by accumulating information from Twitter into a real-time situation awareness tool.
Free access to feeds on social media and publicly available information has opened new doors in the field of peace-keeping. The information available on these networks is screened and accessed in real-time through the application programming interface (API) and then structured to derive a meaning out of the information. CrisisTracker is one of those information management tools meant to provide a structure to the mass amount of eyewitness, on-the-ground reports that come through social media everyday by using crowdsourcing techniques to contextualise the information generated and make predictions.
Mr. Jakob in his interview to OpenIDEO states that qualitative and quantitative evaluation has revealed that the system is capable of directing users’ attention to impactful events within 30 minutes of the first tweet being posted, whereas mainstream media often takes several hours. This is a median time, with instantaneous events such as bombings being detected quicker and armed clashes and political events gathering momentum more slowly due to limited availability of human curators,
There are still a few bottlenecks which need to be taken care of before shifting the dependence on CrisisTracker i.e. it is totally dependent on population or the volunteer curators who have access to social media - no access means that there will be no flow of information. For now it can be used as a complementary platform (as is the case in Syria where it is being used, among other tools, to track outbreaks of violence there) where it can act as a cost-effective real-time monitoring service of a focussed area and serve its dual function of information extraction and geo-mapping of the incidents.
Check out the video below for a further introduction to CrisisTracker: