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Integrating Social Media Communications into the Rapid Assessment of Sudden Onset Disasters
Proceedings of SocInfo 2014 (2014)
  • Sarah Vieweg, Qatar Computing Research Institute
  • Carlos Castillo, Qatar Computing Research Institute
  • Muhammad Imran
Recent research on automatic analysis of social media data during disasters has given insight into how to provide valuable and timely information to formal response agencies—and members of the public—in these safety-critical situations. For the most part, this work has followed a bottom-up approach in which data are analyzed first, and the target audience’s needs are addressed later. Here, we adopt a top-down approach in which the starting point are informa- tion needs. We focus on the aid agency tasked with coordinating humanitarian response within the United Nations: OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. When disasters occur, OCHA must quickly make deci- sions based on the most complete picture of the situation they can obtain. They are responsible for organizing search and rescue operations, emergency food as- sistance, and similar tasks. Given that complete knowledge of any disaster event is not possible, they gather information from myriad available sources, including social media. In this paper, we examine the rapid assessment procedures used by OCHA, and explain how they executed these procedures during the 2013 Typhoon Yolanda. In addition, we interview a small sample of OCHA employees, focusing on their uses and views of social media data. In addition, we show how state-of-the-art social media processing methods can be used to produce information in a for- mat that takes into account what large international humanitarian organizations require to meet their constantly evolving needs.
Publication Date
November, 2014
Citation Information
Sarah E. Vieweg, Carlos Castillo, and Muhammad Imran. "Integrating Social Media Communications into the Rapid Assessment of Sudden Onset Disasters" Proceedings of SocInfo 2014. (2014).