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The Role of Social Media for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management

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Presentation is in three parts:

Part 1 - Examines use of social media for humanitarian assistance and disaster management

Part 2 - Examine several case studies, and presents the challenge of filtering data for relevant content, and presents a social data analytics platform Echosec as one type of solution

Part 3 - Outlines a case study of how Echosec has been used for humanitarian assistance and disaster management


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The Role of Social Media for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management

  1. 1. The Role of Social Media for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) 7th Annual Postgraduate Conference . 7th – 8th April 2016. Wasim Ahmed (wahmed1@Sheffield.ac.uk) Prof Peter Bath p.a.bath@sheffield.ac.uk Dr Gianluca Demartini (g.demartini@sheffield.ac.uk)
  2. 2. About me • Second Year PhD student in the Health Informatics Research Group, Information School, University of Sheffield • PhD examines content that is shared on Twitter during infectious disease outbreaks • Run a social media research blog (over 10 thousand hits)
  3. 3. Overview of Presentation • Part 1 – Examines use of social media for humanitarian assistance and disaster management • Part 2 – Examine several case studies, and presents the challenge of filtering data for relevant content, and presents a social data analytics platform Echosec as one type of solution • Part 3 - Outlines a case study of how Echosec has been used for humanitarian assistance and disaster management
  4. 4. Popular Social Media Platforms include: • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Sina Weibo • Youtube • Foursquare • Flickr • VK 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 4
  5. 5. How are they related? • Platforms in the previous slides all allow users to upload posts with location information (latitude and longitude) • They also have public APIs that allow developers and researchers to retrieve posts 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 5
  6. 6. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 6 Social Media – where news breaks? • Many citizens now carry mobile devices connected to the Internet capable of taking video and pictures • Emerging news stories of crisis events may be reported on social media before reported anywhere else. Posts may contain location information • Citizens may record and upload videos and pictures of crisis events to social media websites as soon as they occur. Faster than traditional media outlets.
  7. 7. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 7 • For example, those whom are affected by a flood may post information and media with location information such as video or pictures to social media which can then be utilized by the emergency services Social Media – where news breaks?
  8. 8. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 8 • Joplin Tornado – (2011). Deadliest tornado in America since 1947 • Facebook page for connecting needs and resources • Fresh water deposits, shelter, clothing • Locating loved ones
  9. 9. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 9 • Hurricane Sandy – destructive hurricane of 2012 Atlantic hurricane season • Early warning – emergency evacuation route information. Tracking of storm • Emergency shelter information • Food, water distribution information • Areas to stay away from
  10. 10. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 10 • Haiti earthquake (2010) • User-generated content on social media made up for lack of information • Twitter feeds provided impressive picture of ongoing earthquake • Twitter became central too for fundraising
  11. 11. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 11 • Dubai Fire (New Year’s Eve 2015) – a luxury hotel caught fire before firework celebration • Social media campaign on Twitter to help find a home for those whom were affected by the fire using the #NeedAnAdress hashtag
  12. 12. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 12
  13. 13. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 13 • 2013 Jakarta flood • A research project leveraged community participation and reported flood-related tweets and provided live updates for faster response times during floods
  14. 14. Case studies of SM for humanitarian assistance & disaster management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 14 • Collaboration between a disaster management agency, a university and Twitter to use social data to both build a working model and provide real-time response to a natural disaster
  15. 15. Case studies of SM for Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 15
  16. 16. Case studies of SM for Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Management 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 16
  17. 17. Digital Humanitarians 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 17 • Various groups of Digital Humanitarians • Standby Task Force – Online volunteers supporting humanitarian groups (one of many) • Formed in 2010 to provide volunteer online digital responses to humanitarian crises, local emergencies • Recent Standby ‘deployments’ include: European refugee crisis (2016) & Nepal earthquake (2015)
  18. 18. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 18 Filtering the data? • Jakarta case used community participation. Asked users to tweet to specific accounts and use specific hashtags • When this is not possible the difficultly becomes of filtering and identifying content related to a specific disaster hit area in order to leverage the information as intelligence
  19. 19. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 19 Filtering the data? • One social data analytics platform named Echosec has removed the difficulty of identifying relevant content by providing the ability to search for locations as well as content • There are both free and paid versions of Echosec, and the free version may be of interest to some
  20. 20. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 20 Echosec • Echosec allows you to navigate to almost any location in the world and examine the social media activity around that area • Currently Echosec Pro allows users to access at least the following social data feeds: Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare, AIS Shipping, Sina Weibo, Flickr, YouTube, VK, and Panoramio
  21. 21. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 21 Possible uses of Echosec • Public Safety and Intelligence such as: • Crisis events: • Floods • Earthquakes • Situational awareness: • Concerts • Sports events
  22. 22. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 22 Echosec dashboard layout
  23. 23. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 23 Examples of case studies using Echosec • Echosec was used following the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake • Apps such as four-square have potential to provide first responders ability to check where things are • Geographically searching social media data in an area can show you what you are looking for in an emergency • Can examine locations of affected areas and see where people have stopped posting from
  24. 24. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 24 Real Examples of case studies using Echosec
  25. 25. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 25 Real Examples of case studies using Echosec
  26. 26. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 26 Ethical Concerns • Social media data used in humanitarian assistance and disaster management is that which is publically shared • However, there are issues of privacy e.g. sharing a post of a user to an entire community without knowing what someone will do with the information • In times of a disaster someone posting a message on Twitter and/or Facebook may not worry too much about privacy
  27. 27. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 27 Ethical Concerns • Digital Humanitarians may contravene university research ethics polices • Currently collection of social media data requires research ethics approval prior to the data being collected • If an academic had resources and potential to help those caught in a disaster it would contravene university research ethics polices • No data was analysed in this presentation
  28. 28. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 28 Future work • White paper/academic paper bringing together a range of case studies of how social media has been used for humanitarian assistance and disaster management • Updating previous work • Provide best practice tips and guidelines for emergency services and local authorities • Show potential of platforms such as Echosec for emergency services and local authorities
  29. 29. 11/04/2016 © The University of Sheffield 29 Conclusion • There are vast amounts of data generated across social media platforms • Social media presents great potential for humanitarian assistance and disaster management • One particular use for humanitarian assistance and disaster management is location based social media • One social data analytics platform, Echosec, is leading the way
  30. 30. To Discover And Understand.

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