Earthquake research published in Geo-spatial Information Science journal

Published: July 27th, 2018

Category: News

Ahmed Ahmouda, Dr. Henry Hochmair, and Sreten Cvetojevic co-authored a paper entitled “Analyzing the Effect of Earthquakes on OpenStreetMap Contribution Patterns and Tweeting Activities” for the Journal of Geo-spatial Information Science.


Natural disasters, such as wildfires, earthquakes, landslides, or floods, lead to an increase in topical information shared on social media and in increased mapping activities in volunteered geographic information (VGI) platforms. Using earthquakes in Nepal and Central Italy as case studies, this research analyzes the effects of natural disasters on short-term (weeks) and longer-term (half year) changes in OpenStreetMap (OSM) mapping behavior and tweet activities in the affected regions. An increase of activities in OSM during the events can be partially attributed to those focused OSM mapping campaigns, for example, through the Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT). Using source tags in OSM change-sets, it was found that only a small portion of external mappers actually travels to the affected regions, whereas the majority of external mappers relies on desktop mapping instead. Furthermore, the study analyzes the spatio-temporal sequence of posted tweets together with keyword filters to identify a subset of users who most likely traveled to the affected regions for support and rescue operations. It also explores where, geographically, earthquake information spreads within social networks.

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