ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information (2021-02-01)

Twitter Use in Hurricane Isaac and Its Implications for Disaster Resilience

  • Kejin Wang,
  • Nina S. N. Lam,
  • Lei Zou,
  • Volodymyr Mihunov

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 116
p. 116


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Disaster resilience is the capacity of a community to “bounce back” from disastrous events. Most studies rely on traditional data such as census data to study community resilience. With increasing use of social media, new data sources such as Twitter could be utilized to monitor human response during different phases of disasters to better understand resilience. An important research question is: Does Twitter use correlate with disaster resilience? Specifically, will communities with more disaster-related Twitter uses be more resilient to disasters, presumably because they have better situational awareness? The underlying issue is that if there are social and geographical disparities in Twitter use, how will such disparities affect communities’ resilience to disasters? This study examines the relationship between Twitter use and community resilience during Hurricane Isaac, which hit Louisiana and Mississippi in August 2012. First, we applied the resilience inference measurement (RIM) model to calculate the resilience indices of 146 affected counties. Second, we analyzed Twitter use and their sentiment patterns through the three phases of Hurricane Isaac—preparedness, response, and recovery. Third, we correlated Twitter use density and sentiment scores with the resilience scores and major social–environmental variables to test whether significant geographical and social disparities in Twitter use existed through the three phases of disaster management. Significant positive correlations were found between Twitter use density and resilience indicators, confirming that communities with higher resilience capacity, which are characterized by better social–environmental conditions, tend to have higher Twitter use. These results imply that Twitter use during disasters could be improved to increase the resilience of affected communities. On the other hand, no significant correlations were found between sentiment scores and resilience indicators, suggesting that further research on sentiment analysis may be needed.