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Dr. Sophia B Liu is a 31-year-old crisis informatics researcher with 10 years of interdisciplinary research experience of merging human-centered computing techniques with hazards and disaster research to inform the crisis informatics and crisis mapping fields. She examines social and behavioral uses of information and communication technology around major crises and disasters. In 2011, Dr. Liu was awarded a USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship to investigate the opportunities and challenges with integrating social media and crowdsourcing practices into USGS hazard products and services to inform the emergency management domain. She received her Ph.D. from University of Colorado at Boulder in the Technology, Media and Society interdisciplinary program at the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute. She worked with Professor Leysia Palen in the Department of Computer Science conducting research in crisis Informatics - an emerging field working at the intersection of social, technical, and informational aspects of crises and disasters. She was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship to study the use of social media pertaining to historically significant crises and the emergence of socially-distributed curatorial practices as a way of managing crisis information in the social media landscape. She received her B.A. in Social Science specializing in Research and Analytical Methods with two minors in Information & Computer Science as well as in Digital Arts.
Dr. Sophia B. Liu is a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Geographer at the U.S. Geological Survey beginning in November 2011. She provides sociotechnical and geospatial expertise as a crisis informatics researcher by offering innovative solutions and guidance on how to integrate social media and crowdsourced data into USGS natural hazard products and services while engaging relevant users and stakeholders in the design process. Dr. Liu has a unique Mendenhall fellowship in that she has been funded by three different programs in USGS: (1) National Geospatial Program, (2) Earthquake Hazards Program, and (3) Coastal and Marine Geology Program. and the Natural Hazards mission area. She currently works with research geographer, Barbara Poore, at the Coastal and Marine Science Center in Saint Petersburg, Florida developing the iCoast crowdsourcing application with USGS coastal scientists. She previously worked with Paul Earle, seismologist and director of operations, at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado working on the USGS Tweet Earthquake Dispatch (TED) project.
During the first two years of her Mendenhall, Dr. Liu investigated the emergence and formalization of crisis crowdsourcing in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Crowdsourcing typically refers to the practice of obtaining content or services from a large group of people through an open call for contributions. A major application area of crowdsourcing is in the crisis and emergency management domain. Disasters and extreme events, like the 2010 Haiti earthquake and 2012 Hurricane Sandy, have given prominence to the proliferation and widespread use of emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs)—namely social media platforms, location-aware mobile devices, open source software, and cloud computing services—during emergencies that has been shown to save lives and foster disaster risk reduction. She developed a Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework that incorporates the different contingencies caused by crises to reduce the complexity of coordinating with indeterminate number of people or crowds in these complex environments (Liu and Poore, 2014). It is important to determine the interaction mechanisms for enabling and managing the coordination work involved when integrating various crowds, tasks, and interaction flows in the complex spatiotemporal context of disaster management. Coordination conflicts involving large, indeterminate crowds can be resolved when interdependencies and interconnections between these interfaces are interwoven and aligned, which is where innovations are emerging. As access to the ever-flowing streams of online content and digital volunteers increases, there is an opportunity to integrate and leverage data and services collected from different crowds within the scientific research community, emergency management agencies, technology industry, disaster-affected populations, and the general public, to improve disaster warning, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.
Liu, Sophia and Barbara Poore. (June 2014). Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework: Designing Strategic Configurations of Crowdsourcing for the Crisis Domain. Journal of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Special Issue on Crisis Informatics and Collaboration. Link to Draft: http://goo.gl/hV6CAa
Virtual Social Media Working Group and DHS First Responders Group. (April 2014). Using Social Media for Enhanced Situational Awareness and Decision Support. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology.
Liu, Sophia B. (2014). Crowdsourcing Aerial Imagery to Detect Coastal Change After Extreme Storms. Lightening talk abstract submitted to the Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Symposium for the Emerging Technologies GEOINT Forward session in Tampa, FL on April 14-17, 2014. Link to Slides: http://goo.gl/diote3. (15% acceptance rate)
Liu, Sophia B. (2014). USGS iCoast: Crowdsourcing the Analysis of Coastal Change After Extreme Storms with Aerial Photographs. Lightning Talk and Demonstration abstract submitted to the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting for the “Future Directions in Geoweb Research: An alt.conference on Big Data, Theory, and Geography’s Role” session in Tampa, FL on April 8-12, 2014.
Liu, Sophia B. (2014). USGS iCoast Crowdsourcing System: Merging Geologic Time with the Disaster Lifecycle to Analyze Coastal Changes After Extreme Storms. Paper abstract submitted to the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting at the “Disaster Time: Critical Perspectives on Crisis Informatics and the Temporal Aspects of Disasters” session in Tampa, FL on April 8-12, 2014.
Liu, Sophia B., Barbara S. Poore, Richard J. Snell, Aubrey Goodman, Nathaniel G. Plant, Hilary F. Stockdon, Karen L.M. Morgan, and M. Dennis Krohn. (2014). USGS iCoast - Did the Coast Change?: Designing a Crisis Crowdsourcing App to Validate Coastal Change Models. In Proceedings of the companion publication of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW Companion '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 17-20.
Liu, Sophia B. (2014). USGS iCoast - Did the Coast Change? Crowdsourcing Aerial Photography Analysis to Detect Coastal Changes After Extreme Storms. Paper abstract submitted to the Florida Society of Geographers (FSG) 2014 Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL on February 7-9, 2014.
Liu, Sophia B. (2013). Formalizing Geospatial Crowdsourcing in the Crisis Mapping Community. Abstract submitted to the CaGIS/ASPRS Specialty Conference on Imaging and Mapping for Disaster Management for the "Crisis Crowdsourcing in the GeoWeb" session on October 27-31, 2013.
Liu, Sophia B. (2013). Formalizing Crowdsourcing in the Emergency Management Domain. International Research Committee on Disasters Researchers Meeting on July 17, 2013.
Liu, Sophia B. (2013). Unpacking Crowdsourcing for Emergency Management. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop on July 13-14, 2013.
Liu, Sophia B. (2013). Unpacking Crowdsourcing for Emergency Management. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop on July 13-14, 2013.
Liu, Sophia B. (2013). Formalizing Geospatial Crowdsourcing in the Crisis Mapping Community. Abstract submitted to the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting for the "Crowdsourcing Crisis in the GeoWeb: A Critical Look" paper session in Los Angeles, CA on April 9-13, 2013.
Liu, Sophia B., Beau Bouchard, Daniel Bowden, Michelle Guy, and Paul Earle. (2012). USGS Tweet Earthquake Dispatch (@USGSted): Using Twitter for Earthquake Detection and Characterization. Poster presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2012 Annual Meeting for the "Citizen Empowered Seismology" session in San Francisco, CA on December 4, 2012. Link to Abstract: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/eposters/eposter/s21a-2431/.
Liu, Sophia B. and Poore, Barbara. (2012). Distributed Curation through Crisis Map Mashups. Presented at the Association for American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in the "Communicating through Crisis" session on February 26, 2012. New York City, NY. Link to Abstract: http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/AbstractDetail.cfm?AbstractID=44245.
Liu, Sophia B. and Ziemke, Jen. (2012). From Cultures of Participation to the Rise of Crisis Mapping in a Networked World. In Aaron Delwiche and Jennifer Henderson (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Participatory Cultures, New York: Routledge, pp. 251-273.
Liu, Sophia B. (2012). Socially Distributed Curation of the Bhopal Disaster: A Case of Grassroots Heritage in the Crisis Context. In Elisa Giaccardi (Ed.), Heritage and Social Media: Understanding and Experiencing Heritage in a Participatory Culture, Cambridge, UK: Routledge.
Liu, Sophia B. (2012). The Living Heritage of Historic Crises: Curating the Bhopal Disaster in the Social Media Landscape. Interactions magazine.
Liu, Sophia B. (2011). Grassroots Heritage: A Multi-Method Investigation of How Social Media Sustain the Living Heritage of Historic Crises. PhD Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Liu, Sophia B. (2011). Grassroots Heritage: Investigating the Narratives and Socially-Distributed Curatorial Activities of Historic Crises in the Social Media Landscape. Presented at the International Research Committee on Disasters (IRCD) Researchers Meeting in conjunction with 36th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, Broomfield, CO.
Liu, Sophia B. (2011). Digital Commemoration: Surveying the Social Media Revival of Historical Crises. Proceedings of the 29th ACM SIGCHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems for Student Research Competition (CHI EA 2011), Vancouver, Canada. (33% acceptance rate)
Liu, Sophia B. (2011). Socially Distributed Curation of the Bhopal Disaster: A Case of Grassroots Heritage in the Crisis Context. In Elisa Giaccardi (Ed.), Heritage and Social Media: Understanding and Experiencing Heritage in a Participatory Culture, Cambridge, UK: Routledge.
Liu, Sophia B., Leysia Palen, and Elisa Giaccardi. (2011). Heritage Matters in Crisis Informatics: How Information and Communication Technology Can Support Legacies of Crisis Events. In Christine Hagar (Ed.), Crisis Information Management: Communication and Technologies, Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing Limited.
Starbird, Kate, Leysia Palen, Sophia B. Liu, and others. (2011). Promoting Structured Data in Citizen Communications During Disaster Response: An Account of Strategies for Diffusion of the ‘Tweak the Tweet’ Syntax. In Christine Hagar (Ed.), Crisis Information Management: Communication and Technologies, Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing Limited.
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). Crisis Culture Curation. Presented at the 2nd Annual International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM 2010). Link to Ignite talk on YouTube: http://bit.ly/CrisisCultureCuration
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). The Rise of Curated Crisis Content. Proceedings of the 7th International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2010) Conference, Seattle, WA.
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). Grassroots Heritage in the Crisis Context: A Social Media Probes Approach to Studying Heritage in a Participatory Age. Proceedings of the 28th ACM SIGCHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems Doctoral Consortium (CHI EA 2010), Atlanta, GA, pp. 2975-2978. (26% acceptance rate)
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). The Emerging Ethics of Studying Social Media Use with a Heritage Twist. “Revisiting Research Ethics in the Facebook Era: Challenges in Emerging CSCW Research.” Workshop at the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010), Savannah, GA.
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). The Living Heritage in the Age of Social Media. “Death and the Digital” Workshop at the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010), Savannah, GA.
Liu, Sophia B. and Brad King. (2010). The Search for Meaning in Distributed Story Streams. Presented at the Popular Culture Association /American Culture Association National Conference (PCA/ACA 2010), Memory and Representation subject area, St. Louis, MO. (10 pages).
Liu, Sophia B. and Leysia Palen. (2010). The New Cartographers: Crisis Map Mashups and the Emergence of Neogeographic Practice. Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS) Journal, Special Issue: New Directions in Hazards and Disaster Research, 37 (1), pp. 69-90.
Liu, Sophia B., Anahi Ayala Iacucci and Patrick Meier. (2010). Ushahidi Haiti and Chile: Next Generation Crisis Mapping. American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Bulletin, August, pp. 10-13.
Liu, Sophia B and Anahi Ayala Iacucci. (2010). Crisis Map Mashups in a Participatory Age. American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Bulletin, June, pp. 10-14.
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). Trends in Distributed Curatorial Technology to Manage Data in a Networked World. UPGRADE Journal: 2010 - Emerging Information Technologies (II), Vol XI, Num 3, pp. 18-24.
Palen, Leysia, Sarah Vieweg, Sophia B. Liu, and Amanda Hughes. (2009). Crisis in a Networked World: Features of Computer-Mediated Communication in the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Event. Social Science Computer Review, Special Issue: e-Social Science, Sage, 27 (4), pp. 467-480.
Liu, Sophia B., Leysia Palen, Jeannette Sutton, Amanda Hughes, and Sarah Vieweg. (2009). Citizen Photojournalism During Crisis Events. In Stuart Allan and Einar Thorsen (Eds.), Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives, New York: Peter Lang, pp. 43-64.
Liu, Sophia B. (2009). Informing the Design of Next Generation Social Media to Support Crisis-Related Grassroots Heritage. Proceedings of the 6th International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2009) Doctoral Consortium, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Liu, Sophia B. and Leysia Palen. (2009). Spatiotemporal Mashups: A Survey of Current Tools to Inform Next Generation Crisis Support Tools. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2009), J. Landgren & S. Jul (Eds.), Gothenburg, Sweden.
Liu, Sophia B. (2009). Drawing Inspiration from Spatiotemporal Crisis Mashups for the Hazards Community. Presented at the 6th International Research Committee on Disasters (IRCD) Researchers Meeting, Broomfield, CO.
Liu, Sophia B., Leysia Palen, Jeannette Sutton, Amanda Hughes, and Sarah Vieweg. (2008). In Search of the Bigger Picture: The Emergent Role of On-Line Photo Sharing in Times of Disaster. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2008), Washington, DC, pp. 140-149. **Tied for Best Student Paper award**
Hughes, Amanda L., Leysia Palen, Jeannette Sutton, Sophia B. Liu, and Sarah Vieweg. (2008). “Site-Seeing” in Disaster: An Examination of On-Line Social Convergence. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2008), Washington, DC, pp. 324-333. **Tied for Best Student Paper award**
Vieweg, Sarah, Leysia Palen, Sophia B. Liu, Amanda Hughes, Sarah Vieweg, and Jeannette Sutton. (2008). Collective Intelligence in Disaster: Examination of the Phenomenon in the Aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech Shootings. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2008), Washington, DC, pp. 44-54. **Tied for Best Student Paper award**
Liu, Sophia B. (2008). On-Line Photo Sharing in Times of Disaster: Going from Study to Design. Presented at the First Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing (CCWIC), Boulder, CO.
Liu, Sophia B. (2008). Grassroots Heritage: Designing Social Media to Support Civic Curation. “Tinkering, Tailoring, & Mashing: The Social and Collaborative Practices of the Read-Write Web” Workshop at the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2008), San Diego, CA.
Palen, Leysia, Sarah Vieweg, Jeannette Sutton, Sophia B. Liu, and Amanda Hughes. (2007). Crisis Informatics: Studying Crisis in a Networked World. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on E-Social Science, Ann Arbor, MI, Oct 7-9.
Sutton, Jeannette, Leysia Palen, and Sophia B. Liu. (2007). Studying Disaster in a Networked World: How Expanding Scale, Technology & Attention Challenge Empirical Study. Presented at the 4th Hazards and Disasters Researchers Meeting (HDRM), Broomfield, CO.
Palen, Leysia, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, and Sophia B. Liu (2007). Online Forums Supporting Grassroots Participation in Emergency Preparedness and Response. Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery (CACM), 50 (3), pp. 54-58.
Palen, Leysia and Sophia B. Liu (2007). Citizen Communications in Crisis: Anticipating a Future of ICT-Supported Participation. Proceedings of the 25th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2007), San Jose, CA, pp. 727-736. (25% acceptance rate)
Bevc, Christine A., Carter T. Butts, Ben Lind, Sophia B. Liu, Miruna Petrescu-Prahova, Lorien Jasny, Jeannette Sutton, and Kathleen Tierney. (2006). Emergent Multiorganizational Networks following the World Trade Center Attacks. Poster presented at the Annual All-Hands Meeting of Responding to Crises and Unexpected Events – Information Technology Research (RESCUE-ITR), San Diego, CA.
Tang, John, Sophia B. Liu, Michael Muller, James Lin, and Clemens Drews. (2006). Unobtrusive but Invasive: Using Screen Recording to Collect Field Data on Computer-Mediated Interaction. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2006), Banff, Alberta, Canada, pp. 479-482. (20% acceptance rate)
My Science Topics
My USGS Science Strategy AreasA National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program
Data Integration & Interoperability
Climate Variability & Change
Strategically Designing Crisis Crowdsourcing Projects at the USGS
“iCoast - Did the Coast Change?” is a USGS research project that aims to develop an online crowdsourcing system for classifying coastal changes after extreme storms using aerial photographs. USGS coastal scientists have been taking aerial photographs of the coast before and after extreme storms for the past 18 years. However, USGS scientists lack the processing capacity and personnel to manually analyze the thousands of images they collect before and after each storm. The crowdsourcing system is designed to extract qualitative and descriptive information of the geomorphological changes to the coastline after Hurricane Sandy from aerial photographs in order to ground truth USGS coastal change probability models and improve the accuracy of pre-storm coastal vulnerability assessments. Crowdsourcing imagery annotation is a new method to make better use of the unprocessed USGS aerial photographs that are expensive to collect.
This project uses the Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework developed by Dr. Liu to guide the development and implementation of a crowdsourcing project that involves multiple types of crowds with various levels of coastal expertise remotely annotating aerial photography of the coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts Pre- and Post-Hurricane Sandy. Multiple configurations of crowdsourcing will be employed to strategically identify and characterize coastal changes from different kinds of coastal imagery. Human-centered design methods were used to understand how to collaboratively develop a crowdsourcing system with USGS coastal scientists to address their needs. Contextual interviews and ethnographic observations were conducted to better understand the problems they face with managing the aerial photographs of the coast and how they analyze these photographs to extract information regarding geomorphological changes of the coast after extreme storms. Rapid and iterative prototyping was conducted to produce written in Matlab, Ruby and PHP.
The analysis of the crowdsourced data will compare and contrast the differences in annotation speed, quantity, and quality within and between crowds with various levels of coastal expertise. iCoast is intended to enhance the science of coastal change and allow for more accurate storm surge predictions, which could benefit emergency managers and coastal planners. Coupling crowdsourced data with coastal change predictive models using Bayesian networks can quantify the expected visual evidence of coastal erosion, damage to human and natural coastal infrastructure, and post-storm recovery efforts. Ultimately, we hope that iCoast can increase public awareness of coastal vulnerabilities to extreme storms, especially for those who live along the coast.
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