Slándáil at NLP 4 CMC Workshop at GSCL 2015 (Essen, Germany / September 29, 2015)

Word Cloud


Sabine Gründer-Fahrer and Antje Schlaf from InfAI have presented their paper ’Modes of Communication in Social Media for Emergency Management’ at the 2nd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Computer-Mediated Communication / Social Media at the International Conference of the German Society for Computer Linguistics and Language Technology in Essen.


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Graphic of multilingual 'help' message

Slándáil Lexicon Validated against EU Best Practice

On September 30 2015, Slandail team announced the completion of Milestone 32 (MS32). The objective of MS32 is to collect feedback from partners and carry out a critical review of ontologies, validating them against EU Best Practice to ensure that the lexicon reaches an international standard.

In order to organise the lexicon extracted from our English, Italian and German corpora, the team at the University of Padova (UNIPD) created a dedicated wiki where terms in the three languages are displayed side by side. English-Italian and English-German equivalents were selected on the basis of the documents collected and cater for cultural and pragmatic differences. Dialogue with potential end-users at various stages of the design of our terminological work allowed us to integrate further useful sources that could be used to extract terminology. Progress of work on the terminology wiki was presented during plenary and sub-committee meetings and commented on by end-users and other partners. The feedback provided was then used to make adjustments and improvements to our work.

Example of lexicon construction for Slándáil

A further important step was the validation of our lexicon against EU best practices. Since glossaries and term-banks related to emergency management are already available in the EU, currently existing terminology was harmonised by comparing and contrasting the lexicon of various emergency management institutions including the European Union itself as well as the International Red Cross, UNISDR or EIONET to ensure a more comprehensive approach to terminology extraction and management.

Finally, during the latest Terminology Workshop held at Trinity College on 14th September, the project invited Professor Hanne Thomsen from the Copenhagen Business School, who provided her comments on and insights into terminology and ontology organisation. Attending project partners also carried out a critical review of the current state of ontology construction and planned further future structural improvements.

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.

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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.


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LSP Syposium Vienna, July 2015: Image source

Slándáil hosts DISONTOLOGY workshop at International Event, Vienna

A workshop, called the DISONTOLOGY Workshop, was held within the 20th European Symposium on Languages for Special Purposes (Vienna 8-10 July 2015). The workshop was organised by project partners in order to disseminate our work to date on terminology and ontologies as well as to have the chance to exchange views with other LSP specialists. The workshop was held on 10th July and the event was also live tweeted.


Much of the work in LSP is concerned with concepts, ontology and terminology in a single domain. The super-specialisation of language seen in the 20th century, for instance from Biology to Molecular Biology, has not challenged much in LSP methods and techniques.

The Workshop

Slándáil researcher Raffaella Panizzon presenting at the DISONTOLOGY workshop

Slándáil researcher Raffaella Panizzon presenting at the DISONTOLOGY workshop

The challenges of the 21st century, for example hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, can impact catastrophically on urban settlements. The fragile eco-system of these settlements means that post-disaster the recovery takes now even longer than when much of the humanity was in rural areas. The impact of these disasters involves engagement, conflict and collaboration, between a range of stakeholders – people in different strata of the society, civil protection agencies, government agencies and private enterprises. Disaster communication, thus, involves communications across LSP of diverse social, economic and scientific groups, with different ontological basis and varied terminologies.Furthermore, the specialists have to come together to broadcast disaster mitigation and recovery messages to multi-lingual and multi-cultural communities that are a signature of 21st century urban settlements.

Disaster ontology and terminology are the key themes of this workshop and we hope LSP specialists, communications experts, and civil protection agencies will participate in this workshop to explore issues in 21st century LSP.

The audience (approximately 50 people) participated with questions and overall appeared interested in learning more about the various facets of the project. The workshop also proved an important occasion for networking: Prof. Bruce Mayleth from the University of North Dakota connected us with colleagues in the United States, who are working on neighbouring fields (i.e. the Textlinguistik & Technikkommunikation team at RWTH Aachen University in Germany: Eva-Maria Jakobs, Bianka Trevisan, and Class Digmayer who work on risk communication and social media; Liza Potts at Michigan State University investigating disaster communication and author of “Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build for Participation”; and Lee-Ann Kastman-Breuch at the University of Minnesota who is doing research on physician-to-patient communication).

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.