City of Seattle


Description: Social Media Analysis app allowed the City of Seattle to explore social media data  from the local citizens during emergencies and understand messages from other branches of local government

Client: Government

Role: Light user research and Design

Deliverable: UI mockups

Implemented: yes

Timeframe: mid-2014

The City of Seattle’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated a few times a year, typically due to weather-related events as the city aims to restore interrupted services. During these extreme circumstances, Police, Fire, City Light, Utility, Transportation, the Mayor’s office, and Emergency Management personnel work to provide critical services and communicate with affected citizens. While the city has embraced social media to broadcast messages, they recognized potential for leveraging social media in new ways, especially during an emergency. We hosted several workgroups and one-on-one discussions with the City of Seattle to drive the design and implementation choices for a city-centric, visual Social Media Analysis Tool to support decision-making during an emergency. Based on these formative, structured engagements, we identified and prioritized use cases for a visualization tool for social media analysis in emergency management. PNNL’s Scalable Reasoning System (SRS) web analytics framework was leveraged to support the EOC’s rapid decision-making processes by hosting customizable, lightweight visual analytics. Novel analytic paradigms and interactions were then designed and customized within the SRS framework. In particular, Themes, a storyflow analytic tool, makes the city’s voice visible and engaging. With the Theme’s flowing story ribbons, one can explore both the categorical and thematic, unstructured content. Additional analytic techniques were developed to highlight and provide detail to the stories apparent in Themes.

This video was created to showcase some of the early work of the application: