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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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  17 Jul 2020

17 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Opportunities and Risks of Disaster Data from Social Media: A Systematic Review of Incident Information

Matti Wiegmann1,2, Jens Kersten2, Hansi Senaratne3, Martin Potthast4, Friederike Klan2, and Benno Stein1 Matti Wiegmann et al.
  • 1Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • 2German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Data Science
  • 3German Aerospace Center (DLR), German Remote Sensing Data Center
  • 4Leipzig University

Abstract. Compiling and disseminating information about incidents and disasters is key to disaster management and relief. But due to inherent limitations of the acquisition process, the required information is often incomplete or missing altogether. To fill these gaps, citizen observations spread through social media are widely considered to be a promising source of relevant information, and many studies propose new methods to tap this resource. Yet, the overarching question of whether, and under which circumstances social media can supply relevant information (both qualitatively and quantitatively) still remains unanswered. To shed some light on this question, we review 37 large disaster and incident databases covering 27 incident types, organize the contained data and its collection process, and identify the missing or incomplete information. The resulting data collection reveals six major use cases for social media analysis in incident data collection: impact assessment and verification of model predictions, narrative generation, enabling enhanced citizen involvement, supporting weakly institutionalized areas, narrowing surveillance areas, and reporting triggers for periodical surveillance. Aside from this analysis, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use of social media data for closing information gaps related to incidents and disasters.

Matti Wiegmann et al.

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Matti Wiegmann et al.

Matti Wiegmann et al.


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