Social and Physical Sensing Enabled Decision Support

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Social and Physical Sensing Enabled Decision Support
HazardsSEES Logo
Project Overview
Motto To provide an effective interface and tools to identify means by which first-responders should prioritize relief efforts both during and after a disaster event
Timeline 15 Aug 2015 - 31 July 2019
Project Funding
Funding Agency National Science Foundation
Award Amount $1,975,000
Award Number EAR 1520870

Hazards SEES: Social and Physical Sensing Enabled Decision Support for Disaster Management and Response is a NSF funded project involving a collaboration between Kno.e.sis Center, Wright State University and Ohio State University.


Infrastructure systems are a cornerstone of civilization. Damage to infrastructure from natural disasters such as an earthquake (e.g. Haiti, Japan), a hurricane (e.g. Katrina, Sandy) or a flood (e.g. Kashmir floods) can lead to significant economic loss and societal suffering. Human coordination and information exchange are at the center of damage control. This project seeks to radically reform decision support systems for managing rapidly changing disaster situations by the integrated exploitation of social, physical and hazard modeling capabilities. This effort is expected to provide a model for highly integrative and collaborative work among researchers in computer science, engineering, natural sciences and the social sciences for research, education, and training of undergraduate and graduate students including those from under-represented groups.

The team will design novel, multi-dimensional cross-modal aggregation and inference methods to compensate for the uneven coverage of sensing modalities across an affected region. By assimilating data from social and physical sensors and their integrated modeling and analysis, methodology to predict and help prioritize the temporally and conceptually extended consequences of damage to people, civil infrastructure (transportation, power, waterways) and their components (e.g. bridges, traffic signals) will be designed. The team will develop innovative technology to support the identification of new background knowledge and structured data to improve object extraction, location identification, correlation or integration of relevant data across multiple sources and modalities (social, physical and Web). Novel coupling of socio-linguistic and network analysis will be used to identify important persons and objects, statistical and factual knowledge about traffic and transportation networks, and their impact on hazard models (e.g. storm surge) and flood mapping. Domain-grounded mechanisms will be developed to address pervasive trustworthiness and reliability concerns. Exemplar outcomes are expected to include specific tools for first-responders as well as recovery teams to aid in the prioritization of relief and repair efforts, leveraging improved flood response, urban mapping, and dynamic storm surge models, and interdisciplinary training of students leveraging research in pedagogy, in conjunction with Ohio State University’s new undergraduate major in data analytics, and Wright State University’s Big and Smart Data graduate certificate program.

Research Questions

Key questions that will be addressed in this project are:

  1. How can we extract reliable, trustworthy and relevant nuggets of information related to civil infrastructure from language-based citizen sensed data sets across the stages of the disaster life-cycle (preparedness, response & recovery)?
  2. How can we develop adaptive and dynamic models of hurricane storm surge and flood resiliency coupled with fused information from citizen sensed and remote sensed data?
  3. What kind of interface and tools can assist first-responders in leveraging physical sensing (e.g. remote sensing), citizen sensing and their interactions pertaining to infrastructure elements (e.g. chokepoints in a traffic network due to road or bridge closures).


Team members - Sep, 2015. from Left to Right - Siva Kumar, Hussein Al-Olimat, Riccardo Tommasini, Prof. Valerie L. Shalin, Prof. Amit Sheth, Prof. Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan, Dr. Tanvi Banerjee, Sarasi Lalithsena


  • NSF Award#: EAR 1520870
  • Hazards SEES: Social and Physical Sensing Enabled Decision Support for Disaster Management and Response
  • Timeline: 15 Aug 2015 - 31 July 2019
  • Award Amount: $1,975,000.


  1. Hussein S. Al-Olimat, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan, Valerie Shalin, and Amit Sheth. "Location Name Extraction from Targeted Text Streams using Gazetteer-based Statistical Language Models." The 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING 2018).
  2. Sanjaya Wijeratne, Amit Sheth, Shreyansh Bhatt, Lakshika Balasuriya, Hussein Al-Olimat, Manas Gaur, Amir Hossein Yazdavar, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan. "Feature Engineering for Twitter-based Applications", in Feature Engineering for Machine Learning and Data Analytics. Editors. Guozhu Dong and Huan Liu. Chapman and Hall/CRC Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery Series. pp 359-393, March, 2018.
  3. D. Wood, E. J. Kubatko, M. Rahimi, A. Shafieezadeh (2017). Improvements in Internal Barrier Modeling for Fluid-Structure Interaction Models with Storm Surge. IACM 19th International Conference on Finite Elements in Flow Problems. Rome, Italy.
  4. Jiayong Liang and Desheng Liu. (2017). Image fusion for flood detection based on surface change probability (IFFD): an example of MODIS and Landsat.. AAG Annual Meeting (American Association of Geographers). Boston, MA.
  5. O. El-Khoury and E. J. Kubatko (2017). Adaptive Mesh Refinement in DGSWEM. Circulation and Transport Modelling Workshop. University of Notre Dame.
  6. Nikhita Vedula, Srinivasan Parthasarathy and Valerie Shalin. (2017). Predicting Trust Relations Within a Social Network: A Case Study on Emergency Response. ACM International Conference on Web Science.
  7. Nikhita Vedula, Srinivasan Parthasarathy and Valerie Shalin (2016). Predicting Trust Relations Among Users in a Social Network: On the roles of Influence, Cohesion and Valence. ACM SIGKDD WISDOM Proceedings.
  8. Nikhita Vedula and Srinivasan Parthasarathy: (2017). Emotional and Linguistic Cues of Depression from Social Media. ACM Digital Health, 2017.
  9. Jiongqian Liang, Peter Jacobs and Srinivasan Parthasarathy (2016). Human Guided Flood Mapping on Satellite Images. ACM SIGKDD Interactive Data Exploration and Analytics.
  10. J. Liang and S. Parthasarathy (2016). Robust Contextual Outlier Detection: Where Context Meets Sparsity. Proceedings of ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management.
  11. Andrew Hampton, Shreyansh Bhatt, Alan Smith, Jeremy Brunn, Hemant Purohit, Valerie Shalin, John Flach, Amit Sheth. Constructing Synthetic Social Media Stimuli for an Emergency Preparedness Functional Exercise. Proc. of the 14th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM). Albi, Occitanie Pyrénées-Méditerranée, France, May 2017.
  12. Usha Lokala, Srinivas Nowduri, and Prabhakar Sharma (2017). Road Accidents Big Data Mining and Visualization Using Support Vector Machines. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Computer, Electrical, Automation, Control and Information Engineering. 10 (8), 1517.
  13. Sarasi Lalithsena, Pavan Kapanipathi, Amit Sheth (2016). Harnessing Relationships for Domain-specific Subgraph Extraction: A Recommendation Use Case. IEEE International Conference on Big Data. 706.
  14. Hampton, A.J. & Shalin, V.L. (2016). Sentinels of breach: Lexical choice as a metric of urgency. Human Factors, Special Issue on Big Data. 59 (4), 505.
  15. Amit Sheth and Pavan Kapanipathi (2016). Semantic Filtering for Social Data. IEEE Intelligent Systems. 31 (4).
  16. J. Liang, D. Ajwani, P. Nicolson, A. Sala, S. Parthasarathy (2016). What Links Alice and Bob? Matching and Ranking Semantic Patterns in Heterogeneous Networks. Proceedings of the 25th International World Wide Web Conference.
  17. Jiongqian Liang, Peter Jacobs and Srinivasan Parthasarathy (2016). Human Guided Flood Mapping on Satellite Images. ACM SIGKDD Interactive Data Exploration and Analytics.
  18. Kalpa Gunaratna, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan, Amit Sheth, Gong Cheng. (2016). Gleaning Types for Literals in RDF Triples with Application to Entity Summarization.. 13th International Conference, ESWC 2016.
  19. Nikhita Vedula, Srinivasan Parthasarathy and Valerie Shalin (2016). Predicting Trust Relations Among Users in a Social Network: On the roles of Influence, Cohesion and Valence. ACM SIGKDD WISDOM Proceedings.
  20. Sujan Perera, Pablo N. Mendes, Adarsh Alex, Amit Sheth, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan. (2016). Implicit Entity Linking in Tweets. In Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC).
  21. Jacob Ross, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan (2016). Features for Ranking Tweets Based on Credibility and Newsworthiness. 17th International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS 2016). 18-25.


Blog Posts


  • Location Name Extractor (LNEx): A fine-grained geoparsing tool which extracts location mentions from texts and geocode them using OpenStreetMap. The tool was specifically designed for disaster-related use-cases to support spatio-temporal analysis of data for disaster response.
  • Geoann: an annotation tool for geocoding location names in texts. We use [ Brat] (a web-based tool for NLP-assisted text annotation) for visualizing the annotated texts. Geoann allows the annotator to retrieve all the required geo-information needed without leaving the annotation panel, i.e., it facilitates the retrieval and search of location names using Google Maps API. The tool then allows users to annotate location names by drawing bounding boxes of their spatial extents. Then, it saves the annotations in the same file-based stand-off format of each tweet.

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