Social Media and Disasters: Highlighting Some Wicked Problems [Leading Edge]
Information generated on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram are fast becoming powerful and ubiquitous new sources of time-critical data needed to aid decision making during extreme weather events and emergency situations. The large-scale spatio-temporal data harvested from these social media sites during past events such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 tsunami in Japan, and the 2010-2011 Queensland, Australia, flood attest to the fact that real-time crowd-sourced disaster information has huge potential to enable decision makers and first responders to detect disruptive events quickly, gain situational awareness, and respond swiftly to unfolding emergency situations. This type of content generated on social media sites using mobile devices with geospatial information has been termed Volunteered Geographical Information (VGI). As promising as this VGI data collection initiative may appear, the process involved in harnessing social media data for disaster management is not straightforward; it often requires a carefully designed solution.