Tracking Flooding Phase Transitions and Establishing a Passive Hotline with AI-Enabled Social Media Data

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Ruo-Qian Wang, Yingjie Hu, Zikai Zhou, Kevin Yang


Flooding management requires collecting real-time onsite information widely and rapidly. As an emerging data source, social media demonstrates an advantage of providing in-time, rich data in the format of texts and photos and can be used to improve flooding situation awareness. The present study shows that social media data, with additional information processed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques, can be effectively used to track flooding phase transition and locate emergency incidents. To track phase transition, we train a computer vision model that can classify images embedded in social media data into four categories -- preparedness, impact, response, and recovery -- that can reflect the phases of disaster event development. To locate emergency incidents, we use a deep learning based natural language processing (NLP) model to recognize locations from textual content of tweets. The geographic coordinates of the recognized locations are assigned by searching through a dedicated local gazetteer rapidly compiled for the disaster affected region based on the GeoNames gazetteer and the US Census data. By combining image and text analysis, we filter the tweets that contain images of the ``Impact category and high-resolution locations to gain the most valuable situation information. We carry out a manual examination step to complement the automatic data processing and find that it can further strengthen the AI-processed results to support comprehensive situation awareness and to establish a passive hotline to inform rescue and search activities. The developed framework is applied to the flood of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.



Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Sciences, Hydrology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Water Resource Management



Published: 2020-02-21 11:37

Last Updated: 2020-04-30 23:43

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GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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