London, April 10 (IANS) Analysis of content that businesses post on Facebook or other social media platforms can help chart the economic impact and their recovery in countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, says a study.
Traditional economic recovery estimates, such as surveys and interviews, are usually costly, time-consuming and do not scale-up well.
However, in the new study published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers were able to accurately estimate the downtime and recovery of small businesses in countries affected by three different natural hazards using aggregated social media data.
"The challenge of nowcasting the effect of natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and pandemics on assets, people and society has never been more timely than ever for assessing the ability of countries to recover from extreme events," said the study's lead author Filippo Simini, Senior Lecturer at University of Bristol in Britain.
"Often, small to medium-sized businesses slip through the net of traditional monitoring process of recovery. We noticed in areas struck by natural hazard events that not all areas and populations react in the same way," he said.
The method relies on the assumption that businesses tend to publish more social media posts when they are open and fewer when they are closed, hence analysing the aggregated posting activity of a group of businesses over time it is possible to infer when they are open or closed.
Using data from the public Facebook posts of local businesses collected before, during and after three natural disasters comprising the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the 2017 Chiapas earthquake in Mexico, and the 2017 hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the team charted the number of smaller urban businesses who were closed and then were able to measure their recovery post-event.
The team validated their analysis using field surveys, official reports, Facebook surveys, Facebook posts text analysis and other studies available in literature.
Importantly, the framework works in "real time" without the need for text analysis which can be largely dependent on language, culture or semantic analysis and can be applied to any size area or type of natural disaster, in developed and developing countries, allowing local governments to better target the distribution of resources, said the study.
New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Locust Control Offices (LCOs) on Friday conducted control operations at 15 locations in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Union Agriculture Ministry said, adding that no crop loss was reported.
Locust control operations were conducted at 10 locations in districts of Jaipur, Dausa, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer, Chittorgarh, Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) and Niwari and Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh).
Besides, the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Department also undertook control operations at 5 locations, one each in the Satna, Balaghat, Niwari, Raisen and Shivpuri districts.
As on May 28, a total of 377 spots covering 53,997 hectares have been covered since locust control operations started from April 11, the Ministry said in a statement.
Locust operations have been conducted in 11 districts of Rajasthan, 24 of Madhya Pradesh, three in Maharashtra, two each in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and one in Punjab.
Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare Secretary, Sanjay Agarwal on Friday organised a meeting, via video conference, with the Principal Secretary, Agriculture, of all the states and UTs, said the statement.
All the states and UTs were informed about the latest status and control of locust attack and an an advisory was issued in respect of locusts to all the states/UTs.
A letter was issued on Wednesday by the Union Home Secretary to the Chief Secretaries of all the states/UTs giving necessary instructions to streamline the inter-state movement facility for the personnel engaged in locust control works.
The MHA has included hiring of vehicles/tractors with spray equipment for spraying of plant protection chemicals for pest control, hiring of water tankers, and purchase of plant protection chemicals for locust control in this and the norms related to the quantum of assistance will be limited to the actual expenditure incurred on these items. However, expenditure should not exceed 25 per cent of SDRF allocation for the year, said the statement.
As per FAOs Locust Status Bulletin of May 27, several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Odisha, followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon. These movements will cease as swarms begin to breed and become less mobile. Swarms are less likely to reach south India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.