, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 319-338
Date: 04 Dec 2011

Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds

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Abstract

Social media generated from many individuals is playing a greater role in our daily lives and provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight on information flow and social networking within a society. Through data collection and analysis of its content, it supports a greater mapping and understanding of the evolving human landscape. The information disseminated through such media represents a deviation from volunteered geography, in the sense that it is not geographic information per se. Nevertheless, the message often has geographic footprints, for example, in the form of locations from where the tweets originate, or references in their content to geographic entities. We argue that such data conveys ambient geospatial information, capturing for example, people’s references to locations that represent momentary social hotspots. In this paper we address a framework to harvest such ambient geospatial information, and resulting hybrid capabilities to analyze it to support situational awareness as it relates to human activities. We argue that this emergence of ambient geospatial analysis represents a second step in the evolution of geospatial data availability, following on the heels of volunteered geographical information.