Twitter Can Predict Riots Faster Than the Police, According to New Research
Contrary to the popular belief that Twitter is solely for people who just HATE everything and everyone, even labrador puppies and holidays, it turns out that it can actually be a very useful tool when it comes to predicting dangerous incidents like riots.
In a new study, researchers from Cardiff University used algorithms to analyze 1.6 million tweets related to the London riots that took place in 2011.
They found that, by scanning Twitter, computer systems could have noticed the beginnings of the trouble in Enfield an hour and 23 minutes before police were alerted to it.
According to the findings, people are increasingly using social media to report incidents before going to the police.
"In this research, we show that online social media are becoming the go-to place to report observations of everyday occurrences—including social disorder and terrestrial criminal activity," said Pete Burnap, a co-author of the study.
Despite the findings, the researchers stressed that the computer scanning works best with large scale incidents, rather than smaller or isolated cases and you should still definitely call the police.
"We will never replace traditional policing resource on the ground but we have demonstrated that this research could augment existing intelligence gathering and draw on new technologies to support more established policing methods."
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.