Collaborating with Journalists and AI: Leveraging Social Media Images for Enhanced Disaster Resilience and Recovery

Paper by Murthy Dhiraj et al: “Methods to meaningfully integrate journalists into crisis informatics remain lacking. We explored the feasibility of generating a real-time, priority-driven map of infrastructure damage during a natural disaster by strategically selecting journalist networks to identify sources of image-based infrastructure-damage data. Using the REST Twitter API, 1,000,522 tweets were collected from September 13-18, 2018, during and after Hurricane Florence made landfall in the United States. Tweets were classified by source (e.g., news organizations or citizen journalists), and 11,638 images were extracted. We utilized Google’s AutoML Vision software to successfully develop a machine learning image classification model to interpret this sample of images. As a result, 80% of our labeled data was used for training, 10% for validation, and 10% for testing. The model achieved an average precision of 90.6%, an average recall of 77.2%, and an F1 score of .834. In the future, establishing strategic networks of journalists ahead of disasters will reduce the time needed to identify disaster-response targets, thereby focusing relief and recovery efforts in real-time. This approach ultimately aims to save lives and mitigate harm…(More)”.

This free app is the experts’ choice for wildfire information

Article by Shira Ovide: “One of the most trusted sources of information about wildfires is an app that’s mostly run by volunteers and on a shoestring budget.

It’s called Watch Duty, and it started in 2021 as a passion project of a Silicon Valley start-up founder, John Mills. He moved to a wildfire-prone area in Northern California and felt terrified by how difficult it was to find reliable information about fire dangers.

One expert after another said Watch Duty is their go-to resource for information, including maps of wildfires, the activities of firefighting crews, air-quality alerts and official evacuation orders…

More than a decade ago, Mills started a software company that helped chain restaurants with tasks such as food safety checklists. In 2019, Mills bought property north of San Francisco that he expected to be a future home. He stayed there when the pandemic hit in 2020.

During wildfires that year, Mills said he didn’t have enough information about what was happening and what to do. He found himself glued to social media posts from hobbyists who compiled wildfire information from public safety communications that are streamed online.

Mills said the idea for Watch Duty came from his experiences, his discussions with community groups and local officials — and watching an emergency services center struggle with clunky software for dispatching help.

He put in $1 million of his money to start Watch Duty and persuaded people he knew in Silicon Valley to help him write the app’s computer code. Mills also recruited some of the people who had built social media followings for their wildfire posts.

In the first week that Watch Duty was available in three California counties, Mills said, the app had tens of thousands of users. In the past month, he said, Watch Duty has hadroughly 1.1 million users.

Watch Duty is a nonprofit. Members who pay $25 a year have access to extra features such as flight tracking for firefighting aircraft.

Mills wants to expand Watch Duty to cover other types of natural disasters. “I can’t think of anything better I can do with my life than this,” he said…(More)”.

Routledge Handbook of Risk, Crisis, and Disaster Communication

Book edited by Brooke Fisher Liu, and Amisha M. Mehta: “With contributions from leading academic experts and practitioners from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including communication, disaster, and health, this Handbook offers a valuable synthesis of current knowledge and future directions for the field. It is divided into four parts. Part One begins with an introduction to foundational theories and pedagogies for risk and crisis communication. Part Two elucidates knowledge and gaps in communicating about climate and weather, focusing on community and corporate positions and considering text and visual communication with examples from the US and Australia. Part Three provides insights on communicating ongoing and novel risks, crises, and disasters from US and European perspectives, which cover how to define new risks and translate theories and methodologies so that their study can support important ongoing research and practice. Part Four delves into communicating with diverse publics and audiences with authors examining community, first responder, and employee perspectives within developed and developing countries to enhance our understanding and inspire ongoing research that is contextual, nuanced, and impactful. Offering innovative insights into ongoing and new topics, this handbook explores how the field of risk, crisis, and disaster communications can benefit from theory, technology, and practice…(More)”

People with Lived Experience and Expertise of Homelessness and Data Decision-Making

Toolkit by HUD Exchange: “People with lived experience and expertise of homelessness (PLEE) are essential partners for Continuums of Care (CoCs). Creating community models that acknowledge and practice inclusivity, while also valuing the agency of PLEE is essential. CoCs should work together with PLEE to engage in collection, review, analyzation, and use of data to make collaborative decisions impacting their local community.

This toolkit offers suggestions on how PLEE, community partners, and CoCs can partner on data projects and additional local data decision-making efforts. It includes resources on partnership practices, compensation, and training…(More)”

Lethal AI weapons are here: how can we control them?

Article by David Adam: “The development of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs), including AI-equipped drones, is on the rise. The US Department of Defense, for example, has earmarked US$1 billion so far for its Replicator programme, which aims to build a fleet of small, weaponized autonomous vehicles. Experimental submarines, tanks and ships have been made that use AI to pilot themselves and shoot. Commercially available drones can use AI image recognition to zero in on targets and blow them up. LAWs do not need AI to operate, but the technology adds speed, specificity and the ability to evade defences. Some observers fear a future in which swarms of cheap AI drones could be dispatched by any faction to take out a specific person, using facial recognition.

Warfare is a relatively simple application for AI. “The technical capability for a system to find a human being and kill them is much easier than to develop a self-driving car. It’s a graduate-student project,” says Stuart Russell, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a prominent campaigner against AI weapons. He helped to produce a viral 2017 video called Slaughterbots that highlighted the possible risks.

The emergence of AI on the battlefield has spurred debate among researchers, legal experts and ethicists. Some argue that AI-assisted weapons could be more accurate than human-guided ones, potentially reducing both collateral damage — such as civilian casualties and damage to residential areas — and the numbers of soldiers killed and maimed, while helping vulnerable nations and groups to defend themselves. Others emphasize that autonomous weapons could make catastrophic mistakes. And many observers have overarching ethical concerns about passing targeting decisions to an algorithm…(More)”

Crowdsourcing for collaborative crisis communication: a systematic review

Paper by Maria Clara Pestana, Ailton Ribeiro and Vaninha Vieira: “Efficient crisis response and support during emergency scenarios rely on collaborative communication channels. Effective communication between operational centers, civilian responders, and public institutions is vital. Crowdsourcing fosters communication and collaboration among a diverse public. The primary objective is to explore the state-of-the-art in crowdsourcing for collaborative crisis communication guided by a systematic literature review. The study selected 20 relevant papers published in the last decade. The findings highlight solutions to facilitate rapid emergency responses, promote seamless coordination between stakeholders and the general public, and ensure data credibility through a rigorous validation process…(More)”.

AI for Good: Applications in Sustainability, Humanitarian Action, and Health

Book by Juan M. Lavista Ferres and William B. Weeks: “…an insightful and fascinating discussion of how one of the world’s most recognizable software companies is tacking intractable social problems with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). In the book, you’ll learn about how climate change, illness and disease, and challenges to fundamental human rights are all being fought using replicable methods and reusable AI code.

The authors also provide:

  • Easy-to-follow, non-technical explanations of what AI is and how it works
  • Examinations of how healthcare is being improved, climate change is being addressed, and humanitarian aid is being facilitated around the world with AI
  • Discussions of the future of AI in the realm of social benefit organizations and efforts

An essential guide to impactful social change with artificial intelligence, AI for Good is a must-read resource for technical and non-technical professionals interested in AI’s social potential, as well as policymakers, regulators, NGO professionals, and, and non-profit volunteers…(More)”.

AI for Good: Applications in Sustainability, Humanitarian Action, and Health

Book by Juan M. Lavista Ferres, and William B. Weeks: “…delivers an insightful and fascinating discussion of how one of the world’s most recognizable software companies is tackling intractable social problems with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). In the book, you’ll see real in-the-field examples of researchers using AI with replicable methods and reusable AI code to inspire your own uses.

The authors also provide:

  • Easy-to-follow, non-technical explanations of what AI is and how it works
  • Examples of the use of AI for scientists working on mitigating climate change, showing how AI can better analyze data without human bias, remedy pattern recognition deficits, and make use of satellite and other data on a scale never seen before so policy makers can make informed decisions
  • Real applications of AI in humanitarian action, whether in speeding disaster relief with more accurate data for first responders or in helping address populations that have experienced adversity with examples of how analytics is being used to promote inclusivity
  • A deep focus on AI in healthcare where it is improving provider productivity and patient experience, reducing per-capita healthcare costs, and increasing care access, equity, and outcomes
  • Discussions of the future of AI in the realm of social benefit organizations and efforts…(More)”

Gaza and the Future of Information Warfare

Article by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking: “The Israel-Hamas war began in the early hours of Saturday, October 7, when Hamas militants and their affiliates stole over the Gazan-Israeli border by tunnel, truck, and hang glider, killed 1,200 people, and abducted over 200 more. Within minutes, graphic imagery and bombastic propaganda began to flood social media platforms. Each shocking video or post from the ground drew new pairs of eyes, sparked horrified reactions around the world, and created demand for more. A second front in the war had been opened online, transforming physical battles covering a few square miles into a globe-spanning information conflict.

In the days that followed, Israel launched its own bloody retaliation against Hamas; its bombardment of cities in the Gaza Strip killed more than 10,000 Palestinians in the first month. With a ground invasion in late October, Israeli forces began to take control of Gazan territory. The virtual battle lines, meanwhile, only became more firmly entrenched. Digital partisans clashed across Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, YouTube, Telegram, and other social media platforms, each side battling to be the only one heard and believed, unshakably committed to the righteousness of its own cause.

The physical and digital battlefields are now merged. In modern war, smartphones and cameras transmit accounts of nearly every military action across the global information space. The debates they spur, in turn, affect the real world. They shape public opinion, provide vast amounts of intelligence to actors around the world, and even influence diplomatic and military operational decisions at both the strategic and tactical levels. In our 2018 book, we dubbed this phenomenon “LikeWar,” defined as a political and military competition for command of attention. If cyberwar is the hacking of online networks, LikeWar is the hacking of the people on them, using their likes and shares to make a preferred narrative go viral…(More)”.

GovTech in Fragile and Conflict Situations Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Report by the World Bank: “This report takes stock of the development of GovTech solutions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (FCS), be they characterized by low institutional capacity and/or by active conflict and provides insights on challenges and opportunities for implementing GovTech reforms in such contexts. It is aimed at practitioners and policy makers working in FCS but will also be useful for practitioners working in Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV) contexts, at-risk countries, or low-income countries as some similar challenges and opportunities can be present…(More)”.