Using Big Data to Track Hurricane Evacuations

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-10-08 Print this article Print
geospatial analysis

CEO Matt Reilly said that Mogean already has a baseline for most areas because the company has already been collecting data, and as a result, they can take a look at where people were the week before, and contrast that with where they are now. Reilly also noted that the Mogean data analysis engine can use that location data to find out where new points of interest are.

Those new points of interest might be choke points on evacuation routes. The data can also show where evacuees are going so that state authorities can be ready for an influx of people who will need services and other help.

Of course, Mogean doesn't base its business on the public service it provides (at no cost) during emergencies. The company's real work is determining consumer behavior. "We can tell a restaurant owner where the people who drive past his restaurant are going," Reilly said. He pointed out that under normal circumstances, companies use his services in conjunction with their marketing efforts, and so they can reach potential customers without annoying them.

But Reilly said that Mogean does have one other unexpected capability that may be useful to emergency management authorities. He said that the company can track people during an emergency who are in areas that have been evacuated, but who don't live or work in those areas. He said that while it's possible that those people who appear in evacuated areas are there to help, he thinks there's another explanation. Those people, he said, are probably looters.

The big gap between having the information that Mogean has and using it to do some good during an emergency lies in getting the information to the people who can use it. Maulsby said that the company is going to continue to refine its capabilities for providing big data analysis during emergencies. He just hopes the company can find someone who can use it.



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