Keeping an Eye on Hurricane Irene via Social Media and Open Data

Hurricane Irene August 26 NASA Satellite

A massive hurricane is swirling toward the eastern seaboard of the U.S. leaving 29 million people under a Hurricane warning on Friday night. Currently a category 2 storm, Hurricane Irene is forecast to straddle the coast before making landfall near New York City. Here in Southern California we don’t have many hurricane threats but then again it had been a while since the East Coast experienced a strong earthquake before this week. But in 1939 the only tropical storm to make landfall in California killed dozens at sea before coming ashore in Long Beach. 45 deaths were reported as a result of the flooding. And in 1858 a hurricane is said to have nearly made landfall off the San Diego coast, causing the 2011 equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars before turning back out to sea.

But in the 19th and even the 20th centuries we did not have the advanced warning and communications systems that we have today. Without even grazing land, Hurricane Irene is making history — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that today was the first time in the city’s history that mandatory evacuations had been ordered. About a quarter-million residents, primarily on the low-lying edges of Manhattan were urged to abandon their homes. New York’s subway system will be shut down Saturday at noon due to the threat of flooding.

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Think LinkedIn is Free? You Got Sold!

privacyIt seems every social network overextends its privileges with users once a year if not more. In the past the culprit has most often been Facebook, changing its Terms of Service and upgrading its platform to create just a bit more vulnerability for its users. It’s become an almost humorous pattern of overreaching only to retreat slightly in reaction to inevitable user outrage.

Today LinkedIn pulled a Facebook.

LinkedIn launched its own social ad network, which utilized users images and profile information in advertisements that would be served on the site, presumably to their contacts. LinkedIn really should have seen this coming — a few years back when Facebook did the same thing it experienced a user backlash.

What’s the fuss? Social network users expect the opportunity to select whether their likeness is used for profit. In both Facebook and LinkedIn’s case, users were initially opted in to the ad programs by default.

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Geolocation is a Two-Way Street Where Businesses Meet Consumers

geolocation
UPDATE: Watch video of the panel below.

For both businesses and consumers, geolocation apps and services are a dime a dozen these days. But many of these apps and tools serve to benefit both when used consistently and correctly. Much like social media itself, geolocation is a two-way entity.

“Geolocation makes it easier for consumers to get the services they want nearby and for local businesses to reach the consumers in their area,” Eli Portnoy, CEO of Culver City-based mobile marketing startup Thinknear told me matter-of-factly.

As consumers become increasingly engaged with smartphones and other mobile devices, geolocation will have a growing influence on commerce. For most businesses and services, location — and circumstance — means everything. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35 percent) are smartphone users according to a July 2011 Pew Internet report. Consumers are always on the hunt for quality goods and services at reasonable prices. As consumers grow accustomed to the “smart” aspect of always-connected, GPS-enabled mobile devices, the bargains appear at their fingertips and it only becomes a matter of convenience. As consumers discover the power of smartphones beyond texts, emails and phone calls, shopping habits change.

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