Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Search data reveals people turn to the Internet in crises

People often share stories with us about the ways the Internet has helped them during natural disasters.

Whether it’s accessing information about the event, communicating with loved ones during a crisis or finding out how to help respond in the aftermath, the web plays a valuable role.

We looked up some statistics from our search data for several natural disasters to get insights into this phenomenon. We see two consistent trends in search behavior and internet use in the affected areas: a substantial (and often dominant) proportion of searches are directly related to the crises; and people continue to search and access information online even while traffic and search levels drop temporarily during and immediately following the crises. While in some cases internet access is restricted due to infrastructure failures, generally Internet Service Providers continue to provide connectivity and users take advantage of it. The findings show just how resilient the internet can be in times of crises, compared to other infrastructure.

We expect these trends will continue, and to a great extent this drives the ongoing work of the Google Crisis Response team to improve the information available on the 'net during crises.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, Look Beyond the Obvious