Social Media for Emergency Rescue: An Analysis of Rescue Requests on Twitter during Hurricane Harvey
Institutional Repository Document
Social media plays increasingly significant roles in disaster response, but effectively leveraging social media for rescue is challenging. This study analyzed rescue requests on Twitter during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey, in which many residents resorted to social media to call for help. The objectives include (1) understanding the characteristics of rescue-request messages; (2) revealing the spatial-temporal patterns of rescue requests; (3) determining the social-geographical conditions of communities needing rescue; and (4) identifying the challenges of using social media for rescue and propose improvement strategies. About half of rescue requests either did not provide sufficient information or neglected to include rescue-related hashtags or accounts. Of the 824 geocoded unique rescue requests, 41% were from FEMA-defined minimal flood risk zones. Communities sending more rescue requests on Twitter were environmentally and socioeconomically more vulnerable. Finally, we derived a framework summarizing the steps and strategies needed to improve social media use for rescue operations.