Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Richard Taketa


Crowdsourcing, Emergency Response, GIS, Social Media, Web Map

Subject Areas

Geographic information science and geodesy; Web studies


Crowdsourced data, the collective messages from citizens through social media like Twitter® or Facebook®, have been increasingly recognized as a vital information source in a catastrophic disaster. Because there is often insufficient emergency personnel to gather situational information during a big disaster, the crowdsourced data can offer a supplemental means for data collection or dissemination immediately after the disaster. In addition, crowdsourced maps can empower citizens with their involvement.

In the Haiti earthquake of 2010, crowdsourced data was first used to create a web map application to aid the humanitarian effort. With some success in Haiti, these crowdsourced maps have since been created for other disasters in many countries. However, although the crowdsourced map showed great potential, it also revealed a major shortcoming: most first responders did not use the crowdsourced map.

This thesis addresses the issues associated with using crowdsourced maps in the responder community and seeks a possible solution for increasing utilization by first responders during catastrophic disasters. Citizen messages from the Japan earthquake of 2011 were analyzed and filtered by categories best suited for responders. Then, considering the technological difficulties experienced immediately following the disaster, the best communication means were explored to complete two-way communication between responders and citizens.