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Detecting Emergencies Through Cell Phone Usage

Detecting Emergencies Through Cell Phone Usage

July 29, 2013

Homeland & Cyber Security, Natural Sciences, Robotics & High-Tech

The Jerusalem Post — The Mount Carmel forest fire was the deadliest fire in Israeli history. Beginning just south of Haifa on December 2, 2010, fire raced through the hills of the Carmel Forest for 82 hours, killed 44 people, burned down 5 million trees, destroyed hundreds of buildings, and forced 17,000 civilians to evacuate their homes.

flames-israel-night-bill-gabbert-wildfire-todayBut what if it could have been prevented?

A recent study by a team of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests that if given appropriate warning, emergency responders could have been more prepared.

Recently published in the Journal of Statistical Physics, the study features algorithms that can detect the early stages of emergencies like bombings, natural disasters and forest fires. However this isn’t just any data.

The study, conducted over an extensive three-year period, used a sample of 12 billion cell phone calls and text messages.

The BGU researchers propose that if the spikes in cell phone usage were monitored in real time when the Mount Carmel trees began burning, then the network administrator could have signaled to police of a possible emergency.

Read more on The Jerusalem Post website