Document Title

From Big to Little Data for Natural Disaster Recovery: How Online and On-the-ground Activities are Connected?


Geographic Information Systems


Abstract: Following a major natural disaster, many turn to social media to communicate about their situation and try to seek help in disaster recovery. With millions of social media posts, it can be difficult for disaster management organizations to tap into these immense social networks to find the data needed and to connect individuals to networks that can provide assistance. This study takes big data analytic methods and applies them to a specific context, examining how active and influential members of Facebook groups aided in disaster recovery following Hurricane Sandy. It uses network analysis methods for finding influential members and a web-survey for learning about their background and volunteer activity inside and outside of their Facebook groups. The findings show that the majority of the active online members are also actively involved in on-theground recovery activities. They also have the capacity and willingness to work as volunteers. These members have important roles in the integration of online and on-theground disaster recovery efforts. Local governments and disaster management organizations should be prepared to incorporate social media data in their formal disaster recovery processes. This incorporation requires the integration of big data analysis methods with social science theories and methods.

Document Type


Publication Title

I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society

Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2015





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