Crisis Mapping, Citizen Sensing and Social Media Analytics: Leveraging Citizen Roles for Crisis Response

Document Type


Publication Date



With the explosion in social media (1B+ Facebook users, 500M+ Twitter users) and ubiquitous mobile access (6B+ mobile phone subscribers) sharing their observations and opinions, we have unprecedented opportunities to extract social signals, create spatio-temporal mappings, perform analytics on social data, and support applications that vary from situational awareness during crisis response, preparedness and rebuilding phases to advanced analytics on social data, and gaining valuable insights to support improved decision making. This tutorial weaves three themes and corresponding relevant topics- a.) citizen sensing and crisis mapping, b.) technical challenges and recent research for leveraging citizen sensing to improve crisis response coordination, and c.) experiences in building robust and scalable platforms/systems. It will couple technical insights with identification of computational techniques and algorithms along with real-world examples. We will also do exemplary demos of the features in the Sahana, CrowdMap (Ushahidi's version) and Twitris platforms while elaborating on the practical issues and pitfalls of the development and operation of these large-scale platforms, especially during the real-time crisis response.


Tutorial program presented at the 7th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, Boston, MA, July 8th-11th, 2013.

PowerPoint slides can be found at: