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Recent advances in technology have enabled social media services to support space-time indexed data, and internet users from all over the world have created a large volume of time-stamped, geo-located data. Such spatiotemporal data has immense value for increasing situational awareness of local events, providing insights for investigations and understanding the extent of incidents, their severity, and consequences, as well as their time-evolving nature. In analyzing social media data, researchers have mainly focused on finding temporal trends according to volume-based importance. Hence, a relatively small volume of relevant messages may easily be obscured by a huge data set indicating normal situations. In this paper, we present a visual analytics approach that provides users with scalable and interactive social media data analysis and visualization including the exploration and examination of abnormal topics and events within various social media data sources, such as Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. In order to find and understand abnormal events, the analyst can first extract major topics from a set of selected messages and rank them probabilistically using Latent Dirichlet Allocation. He can then apply seasonal trend decomposition together with traditional control chart methods to find unusual peaks and outliers within topic time series. Our case studies show that situational awareness can be improved by incorporating the anomaly and trend examination techniques into a highly interactive visual analysis process.
Date of Conference: 14-19 Oct. 2012