Researchers at UCI and UCCS Found Project HEROIC

Researchers at UCI and UCCS Found Project HEROIC
NSF Funded Initiative Will Explore Informal Online Communication’s Role in Disaster Response

Colorado Springs, Colo., January 15, 2011 Researchers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the University of California-Irvine have received $750,000 from the National Science Foundation to found Project HEROIC (Hazards, Emergency Response, and Online Informal Communication). The project, a collaborative effort by the two universities, will study the role of informal online communication in disaster response.

Project HEROIC’s initial phase seeks to understand the role and effectiveness of informal communications on popular microblogging sites, like Twitter, as information sources during  disaster events of all types.  Current research efforts are focused on rumoring during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The principle investigators, Jeannette Sutton of UCCS and Carter T. Butts of UCI, bring a combination of expertise in disaster response, online communication, and social dynamics to the project.

Sutton said the project aimed to study the “dynamics of information exchange during and following emergency situations, both among official sources and members of the public at large. The data collected by the project team will allow researchers to examine informal communication across hazard types, communities, and time periods.  The project will develop predictive models of online communication arising from natural disasters and emergency events.  Sutton also noted that the project ultimately plans to host a database of integrated information on hazards including resources on official responses to emergencies, details of natural disasters and corresponding losses, and the role of informal communications.

The initial project will run until 2013. Further information on Project HEROIC can be found at

Media Contact: Jeanette Sutton

Phone: 719-255-4128



About Project HEROIC

Project HEROIC is a collaborative, NSF funded effort by researchers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the University of California-Irvine to better understand informal, online communication channels involved in emergency response and during and after hazard events.

About Networks, Computation, and Social Dynamics Lab

The Networks, Computation, and Social Dynamics (NCASD) Lab at the University of California-Irvine, housed within the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), works to examine sociological research questions through the application of mathematical and computational techniques, with a focus on problems in the areas of social network analysis and human judgment and decision making.

About The Trauma Health and Hazards Center

NISSSC (the National Institute of Science, Space, and Security Centers) incorporates four research and teach oriented centers including the Trauma Health and Hazards Center, the Center for Homeland Security, the Center for Space Studies, and the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education.

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