Flickr uploads may be able to be used to predict weather conditions, according to a new study from the University of Warwick. Researchers tracked Flickr photo uploads in the days before and after Hurricane Sandy made landfall by searching for pictures with tags like “Hurricane Sandy”, “hurricane”, and “Sandy”, and discovered a “striking correlation between the moving average of the normalized number of Hurricane Sandy related Flickr photos taken and the atmospheric pressure in New Jersey.”
The study acknowledges that media coverage could lead to increased uploads on Flickr, but the photography network is more independent of media hype than networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The latter’s importance should not be understated though – statistics show that Instagram users uploaded more than 10 photos a second during Sandy’s peak, which proved to be crucial for real-time updates.
Whilst the study needs further refinement it offers exciting indications of what use our contributions could be to measure the severity of an event like Hurricane Sandy, as well as an interesting new perspective independent of major news networks.