Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Title: Social Media and Public Safety: The Hat Chase Experiments

Speaker: Paul Kantor, Rutgers University

Date: Monday, December 12, 2011 11:00am - 12:00pm

Location: DIMACS Center, CoRE Bldg, Room 431, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


The Department of Homeland Security is concerned that social media provide a huge, but uncoordinated network that might detect problems of all kinds, from tornadoes to terrorists, and facilitate response. But there are substantial problems. First, it is hard to spot meaningful messages in the torrent of social chatter. Methods with false alarm rates of 10^-5 will still produce too many false alarms. Second, there are complex policy and legal ramifications if it is expected that first responders are indeed monitoring the streams. Third, there are substantial legal restrictions imposed on the ability of federal, state and local governments to scan or collect information about innocent persons. In this context, CCCICADA/Rutgers has designed a number of experiments to assess the potential cf social media to serve as a means for discovering significant events. The experiments and findings will be described.

This is work in progress, joint with Mor Naaman of SC&I and Fred Roberts of CCICADA.

Bio: Paul Kantor is Prof. of Information Science, with appointments in Library Information Science, Computer Science, and Operations Research. He is also a licensed private pilot. His homepage is at:

DIMACS/CCICADA Interdisciplinary Series, Complete Fall Calendar 2011