Information Spreading During Emergencies and Anomalous Events

  • James P. BagrowEmail author
Part of the Computational Social Sciences book series (CSS)


The most critical time for information to spread is in the aftermath of a serious emergency, crisis, or disaster. Individuals affected by such situations can now turn to an array of communication channels, from mobile phone calls and text messages to social media posts, when alerting social ties. These channels drastically improve the speed of information in a time-sensitive event, and provide extant records of human dynamics during and afterward the event. Retrospective analysis of such anomalous events provides researchers with a class of “found experiments” that may be used to better understand social spreading. In this chapter, we study information spreading due to a number of emergency events, including the Boston Marathon Bombing and a plane crash at a western European airport. We also contrast the different information which may be gleaned by social media data compared with mobile phone data and we estimate the rate of anomalous events in a mobile phone dataset using a proposed anomaly detection method.



We thank S. Lehmann and Y.-Y. Ahn for organizing this book and inviting us to contribute, C.M. Danforth for useful comments on the Twitter data, and we gratefully acknowledge the resources provided by the Vermont Advanced Computing Core. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-1447634.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematics & StatisticsVermont Complex Systems Center, University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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