Social media listening during floods: 2018 Kerala floods in focus

Social media as a news source has grown as the mainstream news outlet for millennials. In the occurrence of a natural disaster, social media is redefining communication and broadcast for public safety. For example, during the 2015 (India) Chennai rains & the 2017 Houston floods, Twitter was extensively used by local communities to relay information about flooded areas, rescue agencies, and relief centers. This widespread use of social media as information-sharing platforms can be leveraged by public agencies for their disaster management policies. When disaster strikes, the capacity of telecommunication networks to cope with the surge in voice call volumes is severely limited, thus overwhelming and jamming phone lines. However, data networks like LTE remain operational. In this context, social media ends up playing a crucial role, for the public to contact emergency response teams. Digital data, thus, can act as a supplemental listening channel for government agencies, apart from the traditional sources of information.

This paper discusses the standardized and well-tested framework that could be employed when a disaster strikes. The framework has been utilized for the 2015 Chennai floods and the 2018 Kerala floods.

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