Tech Talk: Using video games to help disaster responders

Imagine if you could help respond to disasters while enjoying your favourite video game from the comfort of your couch? The Internet Response League has you covered!

Social media has proven to be an important tool for disaster response. Organizations like the Canadian and American Red Cross and others, use information shared on social media to help assess the situation on the ground and identify needs of people in the affected area. This does mean digital volunteers spend hours sorting through a huge amount of data during a disaster.

The Internet Response League (IRL) is working on a way to crowdsource the important job of sorting and tagging information based on urgency in exchange for in-game items or rewards for gamers. The idea is that while volunteers can't possibly sort through the vast amount of data themselves, there are over half a billion people who play at least one hour of video games every day. It would take volunteers 100 hours to tag the data that Facebook gamers combined could sort through in only 7 seconds according to Darlene Storm.

Gaming Emergency Response
Players who opt in to participate would receive a notification like the one pictured above when a disaster happens. If the invitation to help is accepted, gamers would be directed to a "disaster tagging area" where they would tag the level of damage or the importance of the information. This data would then be sent to IRL and used to help disaster responders get an accurate picture of the disaster damage on a live map.
And who said playing video games could never change the world?

You can read more about the Internet Response League's project to turn gamers into disaster responders here.

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