UT students track Hurricane Irma on social media

UT students are tracking Irma's impact in a different way on social media.

KNOXVILLE - If it seems to you that everyone is talking about Hurricane Irma, you’re right—at least, virtually.

Students and professors at the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center at UT are tracking what people are saying about the hurricane on social media.

They use a software called Salesforce Social Studio, which measures social media conversations from more than 150 million platforms.

“In the last 24 hours, there have been approximately 1.2 million social media posts using the term, ‘hurricane,’” communications professor Courtney Carpenter Childers said.

The technology not only shows you what people are talking about, but also gives insight to the nature or emotion of the conversation. Students have found that the discussion around the hurricane are often negative.

“We see what areas are hit more than others,” graduate assistant Brandon Boatwright said.

“You’re seeing people who are saying, ‘I need gas to get out,’ or ‘The interstates are stuck,’” student Alexandria Dodson said.

The software also tracks words most associated with hurricane. That involves Irma, Harvey and Jose, and it also involves Andrew, a hurricane that hit Florida, and the Bahamas in 1992.

“So we have these historical reference points that people are still talking about,” Boatwright said.

Students think the tool could help relief or rescue efforts.

“Being able to aggregate all of this helps us understand once the event happens, how do we respond to it?” Boatwright said. 

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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