Tools and methods for capturing Twitter data during natural disasters

  • Axel Bruns ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology
  • Yuxian Eugene Liang National Cheng Chi University
Keywords: natural disasters, crisis communication, Twitter, computer science, research methodology

Abstract

During the course of several natural disasters in recent years, Twitter has been found to play an important role as an additional medium for many-to-many crisis communication. Emergency services are successfully using Twitter to inform the public about current developments, and are increasingly also attempting to source first-hand situational information from Twitter feeds (such as relevant hashtags). The further study of the uses of Twitter during natural disasters relies on the development of flexible and reliable research infrastructure for tracking and analysing Twitter feeds at scale and in close to real time, however. This article outlines two approaches to the development of such infrastructure: one which builds on the readily available open source platform yourTwapperkeeper to provide a low-cost, simple, and basic solution; and one which establishes a more powerful and flexible framework by drawing on highly scaleable, state-of-the-art technology.

Author Biographies

Axel Bruns, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology
Dr Axel Bruns is an Associate Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (http://cci.edu.au/). He is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and the editor of Uses of Blogs with Joanne Jacobs (2006; all released by Peter Lang, New York). Bruns is an expert on the impact of user-led content creation, or produsage, and his current work focusses especially on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, especially in the context of acute events. His research blog is at http://snurb.info/, and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info. See http://mappingonlinepublics.net/ for more details on his current social media research.
Yuxian Eugene Liang, National Cheng Chi University
Liang Yuxian Eugene enjoys solving business/social science problems with Computer Science. He is currently doing research at National Cheng Chi University, Taipei Taiwan. His research interests include social computing, data mining, machine learning, human computer interaction and social media marketing. He can be reached at http://www.liangeugene.com/.
Published
2012-03-26
How to Cite
Bruns, A., & Liang, Y. E. (2012). Tools and methods for capturing Twitter data during natural disasters. First Monday, 17(4). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i4.3937