I study the spatial aspects of social media and hope to use that knowledge to supplement emergency response and planning. I’m interested in how social media services work, the services they use, the devices used to connect to them, the way in which a device connects, and how a user interacts with the service. Finally, I am interested in the way that social media services present the information to the world. In understanding this process, I hope to convince you that user-generated content provided to and by these services can be used in developing legitimate methods to detect and respond to extreme natural events in real time. Is it possible that human sensors are just as good, if not better, than machine sensors?
My methods thus far have entailed using the Python programming language to monitor Twitter users’ responses to events in real time. The data is then visualized in GIS software to find patterns and to develop new algorithms for automated use of the data. More about my Master’s project can be found on the HazardSearch page.