SoMeC (Social Media Coordination) - Winner of ITU Telecom World Young Innovator Competition 2014

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A Winner of UN agency ITU's Telecom World Young Innovators Competition 2014 on challenge 2- Open Source Technologies for Disaster Management, based on idea incubating from PhD research of Hemant Purohit, among 150 worldwide applications, Aug 2014.


  • What?

A Web (mobile) application to automatically find important actors to engage on social media for situational awareness, and timely spreading prioritized needs (e.g., medical supplies)

  • Who?

Disaster response organizations both formal and NGOs, and other humanitarian organizations interested to leverage citizen sensed data in their workflows

  • Why?

Disaster response coordinators need actionable information and connectivity with important set of actors from social Big Data for making real-time decisions on specific response needs

  • Goals?

Transforming research on Social Good into practice for improving coordination challenge of citizens and humanitarian organizations, leading to effective workflows and efficiency


=== DETAILS ===


Increasing penetration of mobile and Internet technology into our lives (estimated 3 billion users in 2014, by ITU) and social media adoption indicate their importance during future disasters. However, information overload of big data on growing social media (e.g., 20+ million Twitter posts within 1st week of Hurricane Sandy) challenges its usage for improving situational awareness of disaster response organizations. The proposed solution SoMeC, a web-based application (mobile interface possible), automatically finds important people and organizations to engage on social media in near-real time to improve situational awareness and public engagement of disaster response organizations. It helps response organizations better coordinate, and also avoid second disaster for donation management, as NPR reported after Hurricane Sandy ( Using Natural Language Processing, Network Analysis and User Behavior Modeling, this research-driven solution mines conversations on social media for the following:

- A network of influencers, to leverage their spreading power to counter rumors

- A list of influencers with occupations (e.g., humanitarian), for customized engagement, 

- Influencer's profile and its important message content, to aid situational awareness.

SoMeC builds upon research conducted in Kno.e.sis’ NSF SoCS project on leveraging social media for disaster response. The objective of SoMeC initiative is to explore this idea not just for disaster management domain, but even for other humanitarian causes given the adoption of social media in our lives and thinking next few years. For example, identifying targeted local individuals and organizations active for education and health improvement issues in the local region, and who have better knowledge about obstructions to the regional development will be valuable to engage with. Often, policy makers/development program designers have partial access to local contextual expertise of issues on the ground due to limitations of resources and traditional time-consuming survey based methods. Therefore, such technology to mine local experts and important content about issues can help better  understand real issues at the stack for local regions, by naturally leveraging 'citizen sensors'. 


Kno.e.sis researcher Hemant Purohit founded this initiative. Hemant is a soon-to-graduate PhD candidate under Prof. Amit Sheth at Kno.e.sis, and works at the intersection of Computing and Social Sciences. He is highly passionate about research on technology for social good, and works on improving crisis response coordination, and recently, data-driven policy recommendations for UN agencies to curb gender-based violence. He leverages social media and Web of data using NLP, Machine Learning, and Network Sciences, while applying human behavior knowledge from Psycholinguistics. He has published extensively, and given many tutorials/talks on social good problems, particularly crisis response (e.g., AAAI ICWSM-13 tutorial:, more on his webpage.) Hemant’s research led him to be among the 8 international fellows supported by USAID, Google and ICT4Peace foundation at ICCM-2013, UN Nairobi-- an influential humanitarian technology event; where he was selected to also give a TED style ignite-talk to improve crisis coordination via social media (Video:, Slides: His research on identifying requests and offers to help during disaster response has also been integrated into crisis mapping pioneer Ushahidi’s new project CrisisNET, using which a retrospective study of UK floods shows various insights:


SoMeC drafted an advisory board based on prior work and strong engagement with the inspiring multidisciplinary experts, to continue the right direction of developing SoMeC for disaster coordination, as well as applying for other humanitarian causes and societal development. It includes Innovation Advisors as Dr. Patrick Meier (UNICEF Humanitarian Innovations Fellow and Director of Social Innovation at QCRI), Unmesh Sheth (Founder & CEO of SoPact- Innovative Social Impact Platform), Selvam Velmurugan (Founder of; Scientific Advisors as Prof. Amit Sheth ( IEEE Fellow and Executive Director of Kno.e.sis), Dr. Ullas Nambiar (Lead Scientist on Innovation for Emerging Economies, EMC); and Technology Advisors as Anirudh Koul (Data Scientist, Microsoft), Arun Vemuri (Brand Measurement Manager, Google) and Jonathon Morgan (Technical Director of CrisisNET, Ushahidi).


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Mail: hemant [at] knoesis [dot] org