Social Media Analysis
With the proliferation of Web 2.0 Social Media sites like FaceBook, Twitter and many others (~800 others) make it possible to cover everything and anything for everyone. Twitter's 140 character message really is an amazing kind of service that proved it to be anything to many events, disasters, people, celebrities, brands etc. It was the Twitter that triggered Arab upheaval, saved many lives during a recent hurricane Sandy in US and a Typhoon in Philippines.
During emergencies or when a disaster strikes, people use social media tools (e.g., Twitter) to post related videos, photos, links, and more importantly textual information of what they experience personally (eye-witnessed), hear from others (trusted personal sources), or what they watch or hear on main-stream media (e.g., TV, Radio). We believe, if analyzed timely and effectively, these small bits of information can collectively contribute to situational-awareness, and help disaster responders to save hundreds of lives. For example, identifying and locating disaster-affected people those in-need of food, shelter, medicine, etc. can effectively be feeded if on the other hand donation sources can also be identified.
However, the whole process is full of challenges. For example, due to short, and unstructured nature of twitter posts, it is even difficult for most sophisticated NLP techniques to extract a clear message of a post. For more information on what had been accomplished and what left, visit my publications section..