Utilization of social media in floods assessment using data mining techniques

Qasim Khan, Edda Kalbus, Nazar Zaki, Mohamed Mostafa Mohamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Floods are among the devastating types of disasters in terms of human life, social and financial losses. Authoritative data from flood gauges are scarce in arid regions because of the specific type of dry climate that dysfunctions these measuring devices. Hence, social media data could be a useful tool in this case, where a wealth of information is available online. This study investigates the reliability of flood related data quality collected from social media, particularly for an arid region where the usage of flow gauges is limited. The data (text, images and videos) of social media, related to a flood event, was analyzed using the Machine Learning approach. For this reason, digital data (758 images and 1413 video frames) was converted into numeric values through ResNet50 model using the VGG-16 architecture. Numeric data of images, videos and text was further classified using different Machine Learning algorithms. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve and area under curve (AUC) methods were used to evaluate and compare the performance of the developed machine learning algorithms. This novel approach of studying the quality of social media data could be a reliable alternative in the absence of real-time flow gauges data. A flash flood that occurred in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from March 7–11, 2016 was selected as the focus of this study. Random forest showed the highest accuracy of 80.18% among the five other classifiers for images and videos. Precipitation/rainfall data were used to validate social media data, which showed a significant relationship between rainfall and the number of posts. The validity of the machine learning models was assessed using the area under the curve, precision-recall curve, root mean square error, and kappa statistics to confirm the validity and accuracy of the model. The data quality of YouTube videos was found to have the highest accuracy followed by Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram. These results showed that social media data could be used when gauge data is unavailable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0267079
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4 April
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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