Nav: Home

Floods and hurricanes predicted with social media

March 10, 2017

Social media can warn us about extreme weather events before they happen - such as hurricanes, storms and floods - according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Nataliya Tkachenko, with her supervisors in the Department of Computer Science, has found that photographs and key words posted online can signal weather risks developing in specific locations and times - for example, posts about water levels rising can alert the authorities to a potential flood.

Tracking certain words used in social media posts around the time of an extreme weather event - such as water and river when there is a flood risk - allows information to be collated to accurately predict which areas will be affected, and how big the impact will be to infrastructure and human life.

The researchers tracked photos and videos with tags such as river, water and landscape on the social media platform Flickr between 2004 and 2014.

Whilst these words can be used to generally describe natural scenery, researchers found that in certain time periods before the peak of extreme weather events - and in the locations where they occurred - these words took on a distinct meaning of forecast and warning, showing the weather worsening.

These risk-signalling words can act as 'social sensors', which when used alongside physical meteorological sensors can help to improve the prediction and monitoring of the behaviour and severity of an evolving weather event in multiple areas.

Physical sensors - such as flood monitors - have been used traditionally to detect extreme weather events, but their scope is limited, and they cannot accurately cover each specific area which may be affected in the same way that social media can.

Social media is currently used as an effective tool for 'now-casting' - providing eye-witness accounts of ongoing events - but has not yet been harnessed for predicting large-scale events which are still developing.

Using social media and physical meteorological sensors together would create an early warning system for extreme weather events of unprecedented accuracy and efficacy.

Nataliya Tkachenko, from the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities, comments:

"Our analysis demonstrates that metadata in social media image postings enables them to be used as 'social sensors', which can serve as a valuable supplement to instrument-based systems for predicting and monitoring floods, and other kinds of natural hazards.

"The opportunities represented by these new data sources are truly exciting as they can help to protect homes, save lives and design more resilient cities!"
-end-
The research, 'Predicting floods with Flickr tags', is published in PLOS One, and is authored by Nataliya Tkachenko, Professor Stephen Jarvis and Professor Rob Procter from the University of Warwick.

Nataliya is a PhD student in the EPSRC-funded Urban Science Centre for Doctoral Training.

University of Warwick

Related Social Media Articles:

Can seeing the Facebook logo make you crave social media?
A new study examined how social media cues such as the Facebook logo may affect frequent and less frequent social media users differently, sparking spontaneous hedonic reactions that make it difficult to resist social media cravings.
People could be genetically predisposed to social media use
Chance York (Kent State University) used a behavior genetics framework and twin study data from the 2013 Midlife in the United States survey, York examined how both environmental and genetic factors contribute to social media use by applying an analytical model called Defries-Fulker Regression.
New survey reveals almost 6 in 10 teens take a break from social media
A new survey reveals that 58 percent of American teens report taking significant breaks from social media, and that many of these breaks are voluntary.
Who are you on social media? New research examines norms of online personas
According to the Pew Research center, the majority of adults on the internet have more than one social networking profile on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Social media tools can reinforce stigma and stereotypes
Researchers have developed new software to analyze social media comments, and used this tool in a recent study to better understand attitudes that can cause emotional pain, stigmatize people and reinforce stereotypes.
Floods and hurricanes predicted with social media
Social media can warn us about extreme weather events before they happen -- such as hurricanes, storms and floods - according to new research by the University of Warwick.
Why is some social media content interpreted as bragging?
People who post personal content on social networking sites such as Facebook and try to present themselves in a positive light may be perceived as bragging, and therefore be less attractive to others, according to a new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
Your (social media) votes matter
Tim Weninger, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame, conducted two large-scale experiments on Reddit and the results provide insight into how a single up/down vote can influence what content users see on the site.
Multi-social millennials more likely depressed than social(media)ly conservative peers
Compared with the total time spent on social media, use of multiple platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health found in a national survey.
Computers can take social media data and make marketing personas
Computers may be able to group consumers into marketing segments in real time just by observing how they respond to online videos and other social media data, according to a team of researchers.

Related Social Media Reading:

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media
by P. W. Singer (Author), Emerson T. Brooking (Author)

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users
by Guy Kawasaki (Author), Peg Fitzpatrick (Author)

500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More!
by Andrew Macarthy (Author)

Everything You Need to Know about Social Media: Without Having to Call A Kid
by Greta Van Susteren (Author)

Social Media Marketing Workbook: How to Use Social Media for Business (2019 Updated Edition)
by Jason McDonald Ph.D. (Author)

Social Media Made Me Rich: Here's How it Can do the Same for You
by Matthew Loop (Author)

Social Media: Strategies To Mastering Your Brand- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
by David Kelly (Author)

Freakishly Effective Social Media for Network Marketing: How to Stop Wasting Your Time on Things That Don't Work and Start Doing What Does!
by Ray Higdon (Author), Jessica Higdon (Author)

Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))
by Jan Zimmerman (Author), Deborah Ng (Author)

Likeable Social Media, Revised and Expanded: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and More
by Dave Kerpen (Author), Carrie Kerpen (Author), Mallorie Rosenbluth (Author), Meg Riedinger (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!