Should Emergency Response Teams Consider Using Google Trends?

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Google now performs 40,000 searches every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day. Wouldn’t it be great to tap into this information to understand what people are searching for during a disaster?

This is now possible through a free tool called Google Trends. If you haven’t heard of it, Google Trends is a database which aggregates search data from Google Search. Simple Trends shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume. Google explains that, “Google Trends gives you a glimpse into the topics the world is searching for.”

Understanding Public Sentiment During an Emergency

As the most popular search engine, Google has become more of an institution than a simple web-tool. Google’s usage popularity and ubiquity allows its search data to be incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. During a major emergency you can use this to your advantage, to understand public opinion in the context your response-information that may be of particular importance to the Public Information Officer.

One very simple example with you can interact with here, gives some insight into the search volume for the words Storm, Tornado and Flooding in the United State over the last 30 days. We can see from the data that, the states of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina were most concerned. From there we can deep dive into Georgia and see that Albany GA, is most concerned about the topics of Storm, Tornado and Flooding. We can also see ‘Related Queries’ and what’s trending i.e. what’s starting to increase in importance to the local area.

Communication Insights

We are all very aware of the importance of sharing relevant and timely information to the public during a disaster. Google Trends can be a great way to understand concerns in your area, what people are talking about and what kind of content they are looking for. This may help contextualise the informations and communications you releaset to the public during a disaster.

True, Google Trends isn’t going to revolutionise a response, however it’s a tool that is worth considering and keeping in the toolbox, as good data is the foundation for information and knowledge.


Company Bio

D4H is the #1 information management software for emergencies and incidents worldwide. Recording over 15 million response hours per year, D4H solutions are deployed in more than 16 countries. Everyday we drive efficiencies within clients’ in public safety teams and private sector.

Founded in 2008 by Robin Blandford, combining his background in the Coast Guard with an accomplished team of computer scientists and emergency managers; D4H has injected global visibility into tens of thousands of operations on every continent in the world. Driven by a talented executive team, D4H Technologies’ mission is to provide the “Right Information When Things Go Wrong”.

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