As a 1,500-kilometer-wide storm hurricane Sandy was ravaging the East Coast of the United States, despite power outages, the digital world saw yet another storm of messaging, comms, mobile app traffic and big data. Here are a few quick facts:
As the storm was on its way, many Americans turned to storm-tracking apps for help. Apps offered one advantage over tracking the storm online or via TV: they continued to bring updates for as long as the smartphones’ batteries had power. The most downloaded apps seemed to be: Hurricane for Android and iPhone, Hurricane Track, Weather Channel and a few others.
According to some estimates, nearly eight million people on the US East Coast were left without power. But many of them were still getting a few bars on their phones, because most cell phone towers had backup generators.
In the wake of the storm some retailers, banks and credit-card companies, mass-emailed messages of concern to their customers. Banks were offering replacement cards, retailers – discounted shipping.
More of these are expected to be mass blasted in coming days as businesses start to assess the damage from the storm.
Sandy is undoubtedly the most-covered storm in the history of social media. Tweets, posts and videos sought to help people and provide vital information about nearest shelters, closed roads and evacuation routes.
Almost 700,000 people liked a Facebook page full of survival information such as how to update Facebook from a mobile while conserving battery power. Twitter posted a blog with instructions on how to get updates via text messages. And YouTube was providing immediate on the spot videos of Manhattan’s power-plant explosion and the collapse of a building façade.
Big day for similarly Big Data: Google has created a comprehensive tracking tool called Superstorm Sandy Crisis Map. It collected and displayed weather data from numerous sources, including video feeds from different locations, evacuation routes, emergency services and traffic conditions.
You can get the feel of it here:
The worst storm to hit New York in nearly 75 years closed trading for two days. On a lighter note, the US stock markets are to reopen on Wednesday.
About the same time in Sydney ADMA will be holding one of its annual events called Fusion 2012, where big data and the use of technology will be on top of the agenda.
In the meantime our hearts go out to those affected by the storm in the US.