Once limited by the range of its sensors, the U.S. Geological Survey is using crowdfunded tweets on a global scale to monitor earthquakes

Twitter states that people send out about 500 million tweets a day. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a government agency that tracks worldwide earthquakes, happens to sift through those half a billion tweets when tracking the geological movement of the Earth.

Through the USGs has 2,000 real time earthquake sensor units at its disposal, but most of them are U.S.-based and don’t quite cover the distance that millions of active Tweeters might. Therefore the use of Twitter data can bring earthquakes to USGS’s attention when their sensors have yet to detect an earthquake, or when their out-of-range sensors might not have detected them at all.

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