Social networks and media sharing platforms were intensely used during and after recent disasters, e.g., the 2012 Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. or the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that most heavily hit the Philippines. To a large degree, social media was used by individuals in non-directed ways, rather than by crisis response agencies in an organised manner. Yet, social networks bear a lot of potential to involve the public in crisis response, acquire timely information from the disaster site, improve the operational picture, and help plan and perform response operations.

Many crisis management organisations and projects are about to explore this potential now, among them a thread of the European (EC FP7-funded) collaborative project BRIDGE (Bridging Resources and Agencies in Large-Scale Emergency Management). This issue of the E-Letter thus emerged from the BRIDGE project; it gives a project overview, describes the social media analysis research and associated social, ethical and legal considerations in the BRIDGE project, and discusses related work and further activities worldwide on the use of social networks for crises management.

The first article of the E-Letter, written by Hellwagner, introduces the BRIDGE project. It covers the general aims and results of the project with a particular focus on social media research performed in the project. Details on the examination and development of sub-event (i.e., specific hotspots of a crisis) detection mechanisms in BRIDGE are described in the contribution written by Pohl et al. Another work in the context of BRIDGE, outlined by Büscher et al., gives important insights into the social, legal and ethical aspects considering social media as a new source of information for emergency response. Kumar et al. implemented two tools (TweetTracker and TweetXplorer) and demonstrated their usefulness for social media monitoring through disaster response and humanitarian assistance.  Vukovic et al. address the adaptation of CrisisTracker, a system to analyze social media data with crowdsourcing support, to emerging economies. Their article shows the technical difficulties of adapting CrisisTracker to the specific requirements. Vieweg et al. describe AIDR (Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Response), a system for filtering and classifying incoming Tweets with crowdsourcing procedures. The E-Letter concludes with a summary, written by Pohl, on related work on social media in crisis management. An overview on further case studies and analysis frameworks not covered by own contributions in this E-Letter is given.

This comprehensive editition of the STCSN E-Letter is the fourth overall edition since it was launched more than a year ago. For future editions, please feel invited to submit both individual articles, or to propose a special E-Letter edition on a certain topic or activity, like a research project. And should you want to become an active IEEE STCSN member, just contact us!

Enjoy reading,

Hermann Hellwagner, Daniela Pohl and Rene Kaiser