DOI: 10.3390/info15030149 ISSN: 2078-2489

Drowning in the Information Flood: Machine-Learning-Based Relevance Classification of Flood-Related Tweets for Disaster Management

Eike Blomeier, Sebastian Schmidt, Bernd Resch
  • Information Systems

In the early stages of a disaster caused by a natural hazard (e.g., flood), the amount of available and useful information is low. To fill this informational gap, emergency responders are increasingly using data from geo-social media to gain insights from eyewitnesses to build a better understanding of the situation and design effective responses. However, filtering relevant content for this purpose poses a challenge. This work thus presents a comparison of different machine learning models (Naïve Bayes, Random Forest, Support Vector Machine, Convolutional Neural Networks, BERT) for semantic relevance classification of flood-related, German-language Tweets. For this, we relied on a four-category training data set created with the help of experts from human aid organisations. We identified fine-tuned BERT as the most suitable model, averaging a precision of 71% with most of the misclassifications occurring across similar classes. We thus demonstrate that our methodology helps in identifying relevant information for more efficient disaster management.

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