“Social media platforms like Twitter ushered in an era of getting news in real time 24/7. But there’s never been a great way to sort this information by location–until now. Banjo, a California-based company founded by Damien Patton, combs through public social media posts and uses algorithms to identify deviations from the normal activity at a given location. The company divided the globe into 35 billion football-field-size squares and spent years determining baseline activity levels for each portion of the virtual grid. Now, any deviation from this baseline triggers an alert to the Banjo team. The technology detected a shooting at Florida State University–based on what was being tweeted and Instagrammed from that location–before news outlets did.
The implications are huge: Patton says he’s been contacted by the National Weather Service about designing an alert system, and it isn’t hard to imagine how the technology could become a valuable tool for emergency responders. Meanwhile, Meerkat and Periscope, rival video services launched in March, allow users to livestream events from their mobile devices, turning every user into an independent journalist or live-blogger. We’ve been in the age of information for a long time, but now that information is moving a lot faster than ever before.”