Improving natural disaster information collection and management with the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (CSEM)

Founded in 1975 by the European Seismological Commission (ESC), the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) is an international, non-governmental and non-profit association charged with the mission of providing real-time information on seismic activity. The EMSC harbors incredibly precise data on ongoing seismic activity.

Their efforts focus on information access for individuals affected directly and indirectly (family, friends, etc.) by an earthquake. As a result, ESMC launched a mobile app, LastQuake, designed by seismologists to facilitate, in addition to their website, the alert and exchange of information (geolocated photos, updates from the ground) within the first minutes of an earthquake. LastQuake has nearly 200,000 users and is available for Android and Apple devices.

Key issues

  • Limited field evidence: collection of information in the most damaged areas is limited due to on-the-ground realities

  • High traffic diaspora: a large proportion of those visiting EMSC tools comes from the diaspora of the country in which the earthquake takes place. These are friends or relatives of those affected, and they are looking to get news about the event taking place, in addition to other means of communication (telephone, social media etc.).

Key questions

  • How could we collect and aggregate information in real-time, from a number of sources (on-the-ground testimony, national and international news sources, social media, alerts, updates from those indirectly affected by the earthquake)?

  • In what ways can the validation and verification process of information provided by the diaspore become more seamless and less time-consuming?

  • How can the data collected and organized become an asset for on-the-ground rescue teams performing rescue operations?

This challenge is best suited for

  • Data scientists
  • Developers
  • Other

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