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Newswire versus Social Media for Disaster Response and Recovery

by   Rakesh Verma, et al.

In a disaster situation, first responders need to quickly acquire situational awareness and prioritize response based on the need, resources available and impact. Can they do this based on digital media such as Twitter alone, or newswire alone, or some combination of the two? We examine this question in the context of the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes. Because newswire articles are longer, effective summaries can be helpful in saving time yet giving key content. We evaluate the effectiveness of several unsupervised summarization techniques in capturing key content. We propose a method to link tweets written by the public and newswire articles, so that we can compare their key characteristics: timeliness, whether tweets appear earlier than their corresponding news articles, and content. A novel idea is to view relevant tweets as a summary of the matching news article and evaluate these summaries. Whenever possible, we present both quantitative and qualitative evaluations. One of our main findings is that tweets and newswire articles provide complementary perspectives that form a holistic view of the disaster situation.


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