Can social media help clear up the #gulfspill?

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Here in Europe we’re a little preoccupied with the volcanic ash cloud but apparently there was a major oil spill over in The Gulf of Mexico. Once again, social media is coming to the rescue.

As we discovered recently, a group of a dozen or so organizations including BP, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Department of Defense, and OSHA have set up Deepwater Horizon Response, a “Unified Command” established to “manage response operations.” This also involves several social media accounts.

And now there’s a theory that if enough people tweet information using the hashtag #gulfspill the environmental mess will clear itself up. OK, perhaps not, but the newly launched Gulf Coast Spill Coalition thinks that using social media to record and share information related to the oil spill can make a difference. And that’s exactly what has been setup to do.

The site was developed with the help of the Scotland-based web development company EdgeCase.

Through Gulfcoastspill, eyewitnesses can log sightings of the spill (oil on beaches, injured wildlife and volunteer activities etc.), recording their position and uploading photos, videos and comments. There’s also, inevitably a tie-in with Twitter and a mobile app for both Android and iPhone. Not a bad effort, I’d say.

The overall aim, says the project, is to “speed recovery by crowd sourcing information and making this information readily available to recovery teams.” Gulfcoastspill expects that its data will be used by emergency teams, wildlife organisations, educational institutions and volunteer groups.

  • anonymous

    another one ? Ushahidi had one Up ages ago

  • Suaad Sait

    hey if you have no time to “listen” to all the different sources of information, you can use workstreamer (for free) to do that and replicate the content on your web site. we have been “listening” to the oil industry, specifically BP, for last several weeks.

  • Senthil Nayagam

    commendable effort, within reasonable time

    tsunami, earthquakes, volcano and what not inlast decade, we have had major occassions where people could do more in rescue and rehabilitation than the govenment.

    Hope the code/source be open sourced and put on github so as it can be used for other incidents.

  • jason

    Glad they’re getting the publicity for two sites that do nothing as yet. “Oil Reporter” is just Lorem Ipsum…

  • Ron Martinez

    Great idea and effort.

    If it helps, we’ve been recording tweets since the spill began, and sorting out and up the links, pics, and videos (and participants) since the spill began, on tweebus, at

    Tweebus has archived almost a quarter million tweets, 40,000 links, 600 pics, and 500 photos, sorted and heatmapped by day and frequency.

    We gave tweebus a few terms and it’s been listening since. We’d be happy to collaborate with GulfOilSpill in any way possible, including making the corpus available, listening for new terms indicative of sightings, animals in distress, anything really that might be relevant.

    We can be reached at contact at inventionarts dot com. And best of luck.

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