Slandail Strategic Advisory Board

Slándáil Strategic Advisory Board Meet in Dublin

The Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) for Slándáil has met with the project coordinator in Trinity College Dublin on October 5th, 2015. This meeting was arranged to gain an overview and response to project progress to date from the board.

The SAB has three members, each with an area of expertise relevant to the project. Prof. Henrik Selsoee Sorenson from the Copenhagen Business School is an expert in text analytics and linguistics; Dr. Jane Grimson works with ethical research with an emphasis on data transfer; and Commander Brian Fitzgerald (chair) is a member of the Irish Defence Forces’ Planning, Policy and Enterprise section.

The board had reviewed deliverables and milestones of Slándáil to date, and responded to plans set out in the last meeting of the SAB in October 2014, before the project coordinator, Professor Khurshid Ahmad, gave a presentation on the overall project progress, emphasising work done on each work package.

The board then gave responses and feedback to the project to date. The chair gave overall comments, noting that the SAB are very pleased with the project progress. They each gave individual feedback and suggestions on how to improve project outputs, including incorporating theory on cyber-crime in project outputs to strengthen arguments, and improving the connection between image analytics and the ethical framework.

The SAB meeting precedes the upcoming project review meeting in Brussels on November 17th, and has helped to form a backbone of project progress.

'Warning' Terminology Word-cloud

Terminology Workshop Hosted at Trinity College Dublin

On September 14 2015, a terminology workshop in the was hosted by Slándáil in the Small Conference Room, O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College. This workshop has allowed researchers in the project to assess our own terminology standards and to look into how terminology can further benefit our project (see our featured post on terminology for more information).

Prof. Hanne Thomsen from Copenhagen Business School (CBS) was invited to present the Terminology Ontology – the CBS approach and the Terminology for Disaster Management – the Underlying Data Model. Prof. Thomsen’s work is groundbreaking in the area of terminology. At the workshop she discussed issues surrounding the organization of a terminology in a multi-disciplinary domain like disaster management. Members from TCD, UNIPD and INFAI attended the workshop and engaged in discussion about terminology in Slándáil.

During the meeting, discussions were made in relation to the ontology standards, terminological ontology approach and related issues about term-internal relations and ontology storage. Prof. Thomsen presented suggestions that more information could be shared about ontology structuring and further collaboration on finding inter-term relations. Further discussion about ontology validation will also be of interest to improve the international terminology standards of the project. Researchers are now incorporating these standards into the Slándáil Terminology systems.

Presentations from the day are available below:

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Logo of KommunikationsFluten conference

Save The Date! Communication Floods Conference 2015 || Organised with Support from Slándáil

The European Institute for Journalism and Communication Research (EIJC) is pleased to announce the date for the International Conference on Crisis Communication during the flood disasters 2002 and 2013 in Saxony, which will take place at the Mediacampus Leipzig on Friday, 6 November 2015. It is organized with support from the Slándáil partner Institute for Applied Informatics e.V. (INFAI).

The Conference will bring together actors and analysts of the flood disasters 2002 and 2013 in order to share experiences and analyses of the communication flows during these crisis situations.

We are very glad to welcome as speakers representatives of public authorities, the emergency management and volunteer organizations of Saxony as well as international academic research contributions to the analysis of crisis communication.

The European Project Slándáil will present an approach and software prototype for the use of social media information for disaster management.

More information on the programme and how to register is now available.

The official conference language will be German.

Our 2015 Slándáil project magazine is out now!

You can find out more about Slándáil by by following us on twitter (@slandailfp7 or facebook (/slandail Should you wish to sign up to our mailing list, please do so here


Trust and communication between emergency planners and public is dependent on proper communication

Slándáil at SWDM’15: Trust, Social Media and Emergency Management

The Slándáil project presented a paper at the 3rd International Workshop on Social Web for Disaster Management (SWDM ’15), co-located with the 24th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2015), on 18 May 2015 in Florence, Italy. The title of the paper was ‘Trust-Building through Social Media Communications in Disaster Management’ authored by Maria Grazia Busà, Maria Teresa Musacchio (University of Padua), Shane Finan (Trinity College Dublin), Cilian Fennel (Stillwater Communications). The paper was presented by PM. Grazia Busà.

Read more

Upcoming Terminology Workshop at TCD

On September 14 2015, Trinity College Dublin will host a terminology workshop, for Slándáil partners, with invited guest Professor Hanne Thomsen from the Copenhagen Business School.


Read more

Multilingual Terminology Example

Feature: Using Words to Save Lives – Terminology and Technology

Words are valuable, powerful and useful. Great speeches have changed nations; printed newspapers have bankrupted moguls. It seems apt that words have become the cornerstone of 21st Century Technology, with search engines like Google creating vast algorithms that cleverly relate terms to one another or find information based on key-words.

Slándáil has been working on text analysis with a specific goal in mind. Terms that relate to natural disasters are key to managing text analysis in a disaster management system, and the long-term goal of Slándáil is to use specific terms found on social media to highlight potentially affected areas during a natural disaster.

Text Analytics: The difference between words and terms

A term is something that has meaning in a specific context. It can be made up of one word or several in the English language, but is always context-specific. For example, the word “flood” might signify a disaster event in the sentence “The roads have flooded near the river”, but has a different context in the sentence “The people flooded into the supermarket”. While it is simple for most English-speaking people to tell the difference, the key with text analytics for Slándáil is to teach a machine to see the same type of difference, and only focus on the more important information. Linguists at the University of Padua are working with technologists in Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and Instituts für Angewandte Informatik (Germany) to try to compile a large structure of text (or corpora) that will assist the emergency management system that Slándáil are building.

An example of linked words from the Slándáil Terminology Wiki in visual graph form

An example of linked words from the Slándáil Terminology Wiki

The finished system will harvest and analyse text from digital and social media and produce messages for emergency managers that tell them where problems may be occurring, based on the information that they receive. As a result, it is important that the text analysis tools are trained to recognise the difference between a reference to a disaster and a regular post on news or social media.

Emergency managers have specific terms that they use for natural disasters. “Early warning system” or “natural hazards” may not come into regular speech but are equally important for emergency scanning as they are used in emergency systems. Other special grammars are currently being studied at Trinity College Dublin, including emoticons and social media-specific uses of language that will also form part of the overall corpus of terms for Slándáil.

Language Barriers

One of the most difficult aspects of text analysis is how to manage different languages. While machine-learning can manage a large amount through term analysis, it is far more difficult to manage different languages. One of the benefits of the Slándáil project is that it is working in three different languages: German, Italian and English. In order to facilitate this, researchers at the University of Padova have been working on a terminology wiki that defines disaster terms in three different languages.

Multilingual Terminology Example

Text analysis is being undertaken at Trinity College Dublin and Instituts für Angewandte Informatik, Leipzig. In both of these universities text has been harvested from news and online sources including social media in order to gain a better understanding of language and term use during a natural disaster. Technology partner CID (Germany) already have a software, Topic Analyst, that analyses trends in word use online, and this technology will be adapted to incorporate the text analytical tools that the universities are building to become a disaster-specific software.

Putting it All Together

Once a dictionary of terms has been collected it is still not useful to a digital system. The system needs to learn about associations between terms and words in order to be effective. Similar to how Google can suggest that the terms “pen” and “ink” may be associated, the Slándáil system needs to be able to relate terms like “earthquake” and “collapse” in order to be effective. For this, terms need to be laboriously tagged, and the system then needs to be trained to recognise the connections. The initial lexicon was completed in March 2015, however the term databases need to be regularly updated, and this is how the Terminology Wiki is being used.

The importance of text as a tool for social media analysis is highlighted in many projects, but few have focussed on specialising on emergency management, and it is hoped that the developments at partner institutions will provide useful tools for future text analysis in natural disasters.

Results from the terminology studies have been published at the Disontology Workshop, Vienna, July 2015 and will be presented at IDEAL 2015, Warsaw, October 15-16 and a terminology workshop, Dublin, on September 14 2015.

If you are interested in viewing the Wiki please make contact with the project. Further information on how these studies are being employed can be seen on the Disaster Newsletter page.

Feature: Building Relationships on Trust in Disasters

Trust in Evacuation Warnings

The role of trust is important in disaster management and social media. Joint research over the past twelve months between The University of Padua (Italy), Trinity College Dublin and Stillwater Communications (Ireland) has uncovered some important details about trust and its role in disaster communications.

When people are asked to evacuate from an area they are put in a position where they have to trust the authority of emergency managers who tell them that it is safer to leave their homes than to stay. While this might seem like an easy decision, the events of Hurricane Katrina highlighted a major issue when many people mistrusted the warnings that were given and chose to stay in their homes where they felt safer. This was, in part, due to exaggerated stories of looting and mistrust in government, where people felt it would be safer to stay in a familiar place than to relocate temporarily.

Trust in Who Delivers the Message

Graph of levels of trust from Ipsos Mori

Ipsos Mori’s survey on trust shows a low level of political trust compared to an increasing level of trust in experts. Click image for source

One recent poll (above) by Ipsos Mori (a UK research company that specialise in media and advertising) highlights the low level of trust in politicians and journalists when compared to experts. In evacuation situations, politicians often deliver messages from emergency managers, including warning messages and evacuation orders. Read more

Prof. Khurshid Ahmad speaking at the ISCRAM conference 2015

Slándáil at ISCRAM Conference 2015

Cover image credit: @vitalanfranchi

The Slándáil project presented as part of the 12th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM), on 27 May 2015 in Kristiansand, Norway. The project was represented by Professor Khurshid Ahmad, project coordinator.

Professor Ahmad spoke about three unique aspects of Slandail Project: First, to collect and analyse texts and images, available on the social media, to maximise the amount of information during a disaster both to disaster managers and the public at large – current emergency management systems rely on analysing texts only; Second, to increase the level of trust between the managers and the public during a disaster by articulating the available information in a manner that shows empathy as well as leadership. And, third, to practically involve the Slandail end-users, software developers, and ethics and legal experts, in the specification and design of the Slandail system; end users usually form a loose association with projects like Slandail.

His talk was part of a section with speakers from other EU projects including SeCinCoRe, SECTOR, Pop-Alert and COBRACORE. Read more

Feature: The Intrusion Index for Digital Privacy

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have been working on a system to improve technology that harvests data from social media by analysing how it may intrude upon individual privacy. The system, called an Intrusion Index, detects potentially private information in digital data so that this information can be deleted if necessary.

During a natural disaster there is a large volume of information shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some of this information contains private data that could be used to identify individuals, although it is difficult to process all of this of data. Slándáil researchers have been looking at ways to better protect sensitive information, including encryption methods and anonymisation methods, and part of this includes a novel system that works on Named Entity Recognition.

A diagram showing how the intrusion index highlights named entities and then removes them when necessary.

By recognising named entities in the text, the system can then automatically remove these and log where they appear to avoid privacy issues.


Work on the Intrusion Index began in 2014 for Slándáil, and progress has been ongoing in testing and development. The index searches online text for named entities including place-names and people’s names, and creates a log when this data is detected in social media text. The system is now being tested on social media data. Read more