DisastersDARPA holds $40,000 competition to test social media in disasters

Published 1 March 2012

To better understand how emergency responders can leverage social media tools, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is holding the$40,000 CLIQR Quest Challenge

To better understand how emergency responders can leverage social media tools, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is holdingthe $40,000 CLIQR Quest Challenge.

In the event of a major disaster, the government will need all the help they can get as no single entity has all the resources, manpower, or equipment to respond to handle a catastrophic incident. To that end, DARPA hopes that individuals from across the nation can work together and quickly locate critical resources that emergency response crews might need like fuel, water, or vehicles.

Given the power of social media to instantaneously connect and mobilize vast networks of people, DARPA hopes to better understand how these tools can be used in disasters.

According to the competition’s website, the game is “crafted to simulate public mobilization for the identification of essential assets to assist in mobilizing and delivering aid efficiently.”

In the case of the CLIQR challenge, critical resources are in the shape of QR codes that DARPA has scattered across the country and participants are competing to see who can find and submit all of them. But the twist is rather than physically travelling across the country, the game is meant for individuals to use social media to find the codes, which are prominently displayed in public.  

The agency explains, “The intent is for you to use your online presence and tools to distribute the code (using the Twitter hash tag #CLIQRquest or keyword CLIQRquest on other platforms) and find others with the codes you need.”

Ultimately, DARPA hopes “to advance the understanding of social media and the Internet, and explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems.” 

The competition began on 23 February and runs through 8 March. The first person or team to find and submit all QR codes will win the $40,000 cash prize.

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