The Geography of Emotions in the Context of Disaster: Big geo-social data opportunities for mental health and behavioural research


Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


CGIS South, S020 - Belfer Case Study Room

Presentation by Dr. Oliver Gruebner

View the slides (.PPTX)  Listen to the presentation (.MP3)


Disasters have substantial consequences for population mental health with early emotional reactions during disasters being predictive of long-term mental health needs. The talk will provide examples from both, a natural-, and a manmade disaster, i.e. Hurricane Sandy in New York City 2012 and the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. In both contexts, geo-referenced social media data from Twitter was used to first detect basic emotions from these data and second, to detect spatial-temporal hotspots of emotional reactions before, during, and after disaster. The talk aims to provide a proof of concept that excess risk of multiple basic emotions can be mapped retrospectively in space and time as a step towards anticipating acute stress in the population rapidly and efficiently in the aftermath of disaster. As such, social media data may be used for mental health surveillance after large scale disasters to help identify areas of mental health needs and to guide us in our knowledge where we may most effectively intervene to reduce the mental health consequences of disasters.

About the Speaker

Oliver Gruebner ( is a health geographer and combines methodologies from geography and epidemiology to assess population health risk. He earned a PhD in geography from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. Currently, he is employed by the Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Prevention Institute (EBPI) at University of Zurich, Switzerland. Gruebner serves as the director of an international summer school program on spatial epidemiology, is a research fellow with the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH), and with the Competence Centre for Mental Health (CCMH) at the University of Zurich.

Lunch will be served.