University of Washington
Disasters create social disruption. As a result, everyday lives change severely. The amount of social disruption reflects the degree an event is a disaster. One way to capture the amount of social disruption is through the use of cell phone data. Normal, everyday cell phone use will be compared to disaster and post disaster use. As a result, it may be explained how much social disruption occurs from the disaster. Also, the process and speed an area returns to "normal (i.e., the pre-disaster patterns)" may be seen. Two recent, but different disasters (e.g., scope of area, speed of onset), will be selected for this study. This project's unique approach uses the expertise of a civil engineer, sociologist, and a computer scientist. Math, computer science and travel behavior research will be combined to understand disasters. This project will improve how we understand social disruption as a disaster. It will also show how indirect measures can be used to study these events. Also, it will lay the foundation for using other measures to capture the idea of "social disruption." This project will also suggest that emergency managers can use these types of data to improve their emergency management capabilities.