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  1. Social media platforms are playing increasingly critical roles in disaster response and rescue operations. During emergencies, users can post rescue requests along with their addresses on social media, while volunteers can search for those messages and send help. However, efficiently leveraging social media in rescue operations remains challenging because of the lack of tools to identify rescue request messages on social media automatically and rapidly. Analyzing social media data, such as Twitter data, relies heavily on Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to extract information from texts. The introduction of bidirectional transformers models, such as the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformersmore »(BERT) model, has significantly outperformed previous NLP models in numerous text analysis tasks, providing new opportunities to precisely understand and classify social media data for diverse applications. This study developed and compared ten VictimFinder models for identifying rescue request tweets, three based on milestone NLP algorithms and seven BERT-based. A total of 3191 manually labeled disaster-related tweets posted during 2017 Hurricane Harvey were used as the training and testing datasets. We evaluated the performance of each model by classification accuracy, computation cost, and model stability. Experiment results show that all BERT-based models have significantly increased the accuracy of categorizing rescue-related tweets. The best model for identifying rescue request tweets is a customized BERT-based model with a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) classifier. Its F1-score is 0.919, which outperforms the baseline model by 10.6%. The developed models can promote social media use for rescue operations in future disaster events.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2022