Investigating images as indicators for relevant social media messages in disaster management

Robin Peters, João Porto de Albuquerque

ABSTRACT

The use of social media during disasters has received increasing attention in studies of the past few years. Existing research is mostly focused upon analyzing text-based messages from social media platforms such as Twitter, while image-based platforms have not been extensively addressed hitherto. However, pictures taken on-the-ground can offer reliable and valuable information for improving situation awareness and could be used as proxy indicators for relevance. To test this hypothesis, this work explores various social media platforms, including image- and text-based ones in the case of floods in Saxony 2013, Germany. Results show that there is a significant association between disaster-related messages containing images and their proximity to the disaster event. Hence, the existence of an image within a social media message can serve as an indicator for high probability of relevant content, and thus can be used for enhancing information extraction from social media towards improving situation awareness.

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