Using social media for emergency response and urban sustainability: A case study of the 2012 Beijing rainstorm

Yandong Wang, Teng Wang, Xinyue Ye, Jianqi Zhu, Jay Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


With the proliferation of social media, information generated and disseminated from these outlets has become an important part of our everyday lives. For example, this type of information has great potential for effectively distributing political messages, hazard alerts, or messages of other social functions. In this work, we report a case study of the 2012 Beijing Rainstorm to investigate how emergency information was timely distributed using social media during emergency events. We present a classification and location model for social media text streams during emergency events. This model classifies social media text streams based on their topical contents. Integrated with a trend analysis, we show how Sina-Weibo fluctuated during emergency events. Using a spatial statistical analysis method, we found that the distribution patterns of Sina-Weibo were related to the emergency events but varied among different topics. This study helps us to better understand emergency events so that decision-makers can act on emergencies in a timely manner. In addition, this paper presents the tools, methods, and models developed in this study that can be used to work with text streams from social media in the context of disaster management and urban sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


  • Beijing rainstorm
  • Emergency information
  • Sina-Weibo
  • Social media
  • Timely


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