Rapid assessment of disaster damage using social media activity

October 26th, 2016

This study demonstrates that the distribution of damage inflicted by various natural disasters correlates well with the online activity associated with that disaster. A novel technique, which compares per-capita online activity against per-capita monetary damage, yields a strong ranking association between the two. Producing reliable and timely estimates of disaster damage is extremely important for the allocation of limited relief resources and expediting recovery. The team’s findings pave the way for low-cost and rapid damage assessment techniques. These are very important for disaster prone regions like Australia, with its high frequency of bushfires, floods and tropical cyclones. This study was published in the top-tier journal Science Advances in March 2016.


Mapping the intensity of tweets during and just after a hurricane produced a map of damage on par with the government’s