Research Foundation News

August 30, 2018

Emergencies at the big game? New Purdue technology may help police find those situations quicker

Ebert tweet Purdue University researchers have developed a social media analytics tool to help police monitor emergency and public safety information on game day. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Medical emergencies for fans during athletic events can quickly turn into life-or-death situations. That’s why as another Boilermaker football season gets underway, Purdue University researchers are using technology to help police monitor emergency and public safety information on game day.

“This is a giant leap for social media analytics tools,” said David Ebert, director of Purdue’s Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments center by the Department of Homeland Security and the Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Police departments and first responders can use the social media posts to reach people in need of assistance, including medical emergencies, disaster emergencies or criminal activity. During the start of football season, it can be used to find fans having heat-related medical issues.”

The platform also has applications for monitoring traffic, finding victims when hurricanes make landfall, analyzing school threats and helping with security at major speeches or visits by people of note.

“We use the technology during special events to build word clouds based on the type of event,” said John Cox, Purdue’s police chief. “We use it during dignitary protection details where there could be a threat of violence or there is a history surrounding the subject of the dignitary’s visit.”

Ebert and his research team created an online platform, called the Social Media Analytics and Reporting Toolkit, to help first responders better monitor areas of natural or human-made disasters.

On game day, Purdue police can monitor the browser-based platform to see filtered social media content related to key words and geographic regions. Watch a video explaining how the platform works at http://bit.ly/Purdue-SMART.

The platform technology allows first responders to select key words and themes, such as various types of medical incidents or crimes, which are then visually displayed and highlighted on a map as they are talked about on social media within a specific geographic area.

“Users have told us our technology is easy to use and allows them to clearly see and monitor what is going on within a specific area,” Ebert said. “Practically everyone is on social media these days, so there is a rich amount of data available.”      

Purdue’s technology also allows users to set up customizable email alerts for relevant key words within a specified time frame.

The Purdue team worked with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization to patent its work. The team is looking to license or sell the technology.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.         


Purdue Research Foundation contact: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, cladam@prf.org

Sources:
David Ebert, ebertd@ecn.purdue.edu

John Cox, policechief@purdue.edu


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