May 2020

The Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) at San Diego State University are developing analytic dashboards, GIS maps, and visualization graphs to track and monitor COVID-19 outbreaks and impacts to our regional and local communities in San Diego and California.
This research hub has been featured in the SDSU NewsCenter.

Take a look at the story here:

HDMR currently open a webpage to share their research and information on COVID-19. The website is here:

April 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Outbreak, AAG 2020 has shifted to an online virutal presentation and the session entitled “Social Media and Big Data” has been canceled.

Below is the list of papers and authors for the session. 

  • Harvesting Geographical Microdata of Flash Flood from Social Media ( Lei Zou / Texas A&M University)
  • Social Media Analytics for Disaster Management (Zhenlong LI / University of South Carolina)
  • Use of Twitter in Disaster Rescue: Lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey (Volodymyr Mihunov / Louisiana State University)
  • Linking Geo-tagged social media data with health registries to improve public health studies (Ping Yin / University of Mary Washington)
  • Spatiotemporal data analytics to explore real estate market trends (Atsushi Nara / San Diego State University )
  • Visitors’ behavior and landscape perception: A case study of Saguaro National Park based on social media data (Shujuan Li / University of Arizona )
  • Hidden geographies and inequalities of an online social network (Akos Jakobi / Eotvos Lorand University )
  • Peopling cities of technology and big data:
    towards a citizen urban science (Harvey Neo / Singapore University of Technology and Design )
  • Mapping socio-spatial inequity in medical crowdfunding: A methodological discussions of social media and qualitative GIS (Jin-Kyu Jung / University of Washington-Bothell )
  • Revisit the Convergence of GIS and Social Media in 2020 with Geospatial Data Science and Big Data Analytics (Ming-Hsiang Tsou / San Diego State University )

July 2019

10th International Conference on Social Media & Society

Dr. Nara presented a paper entitled “Examining human decision making factors toward wildfire evacuation using Twitter” at 10th International Conference on Social Media & Society, Toronto, Canada on July 21st.

March 2019

SDSU Big Data Hackathon 2019: Projects for Smart Living

The fourth Big Data Hackathon for San Diego organized at San Diego State University provided the platform and resources needed to support students and collaborators from various disciplines to come together, conduct research and develop projects that will benefit the San Diego community.

On March 9th and 16th, 2019, participants from SDSU, University of California San Diego, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU San Marcos, National University and local high schools joined together to solve current problems focusing on improvement of smart living in San Diego at the Hackathon.

The theme for the hackathon was Smart Living with 5 interesting fields including Smart City, Smart Environment, Smart Education, Smart Transportation and Smart Health.

Large numbers of exciting ideas for the San Diego community emerged from this event, such as better transportation plan for senior citizens, preventing light pollution, improving air quality, cancer disease prediction, building a platform for improving public resources, optimized housing rental plan, and reducing microplastic pollution in ocean ecosystem.

The event offered many resources to help teams turn their ideas into projects – learning stations with technology experts, mentors from the county, the San Diego Regional Data Library, Open San Diego, the ZIP Launchpad and the SDSU academic community.

The Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) at SDSU started this hackathon event in 2015 with the goal of getting together like-minded students and experts and developing technology-based solutions to important civic issues in California. Participants generate or use publicly accessible datasets on San Diego, California and the rest of the United States and build their solutions.

Participants had a lot of opportunities to gain from participating in this event. This year’s event featured 28 teams and 164 participants. Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou, Professor in Geography at SDSU and Director of HDMA said, “Students learned how to analyze public data and how to use data analytical tools/methods in order to improve smart living in San Diego in a teamwork format.”

The first prize went to the team ‘ET’s NU Analytics Geeks’ whose idea was to create improved, cost-effective, and real-time monitoring devices deployed at strategic locations to enable dynamic geolocational predictive analytics of indoor/outdoor air quality conditions for smart decision making.

The second prize went to the ‘Team Rocket’ who created a platform that utilized rent, environmental, and local data to determine the fairest rent for renters and landlords in San Diego county.

The third prize went to the team ‘Light Smart’s project that created a smart traffic light network that uses a luminosity control system to dynamically adapt with changing traffic situations.

Additional prizes were awarded to team ‘What the Health’ for Most Innovative and team ‘The League’ for Best Teamwork.

Platinum Sponsor Zip Launch Pad provided additional awards to ‘Team Rocket’ for Best Overall, ‘What the Health’ for Women in Stem, ‘FAME’ for Aging Independently – 1st place, and ‘Open San Diego  & Friends’ for Aging Independently – 2nd Place.

The Young Geocomputational awards for k-14 students were given to ‘Crusader Coders’ for first place and ‘Coding for Christ’ for second place.

“This Hackathon resulted in new collaborations amongst our students and the larger San Diego community on improving smart living could be addressed in our state,” said Dr. Amy Schmitz Weiss, the Lead Coordinator for this Hackathon and Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at SDSU. “We are excited to see what the teams develop and launch in the months ahead as a result of the Hackathon.”

Team repositories including project details and code can be accessed at and

Summer Workshop (Aug 2017)

This specialist meeting (workshop) is co-funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) project award #1416509, IBSS: Spatiotemporal Modeling of Human Dynamics Across Social Media and Social Networks and award #1634641, IMEE: Integrated Stage-Based Evacuation with Social Perception Analysis and Dynamic Population Estimation .The goal of this workshop is to foster the multidisciplinary collaboration in related research disciplines, including geography, linguistics, computer science, political science, public health, civil engineering, and communication. The two-day workshop (August 15 and August 16, 2017), organized by the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) at San Diego State University, brought together over 30 specialists drawn from many disciplines. The workshop assessed the current state of the art technologies and tools for studying social media analytics and decision support systems, identify and prioritize a research agenda, and begin the development of a research community of collaborating scholars working on these Big Data, social media, and decision support systems (DSS) issues.

Over 30 specialists and scholars were invited by the NSF IBSS and IMEE project team, consisting of PI Ming-Hsiang Tsou (Geography) and Co-PIs Brian Spitzberg (Communication), Jean Mark Gawron (Linguistics), Heather Corliss (Public Health), Jay Lee (Geography, Kent State), Xinyue Ye (Geography, Kent State), Xuan Shi (Geosciences, U of Arkansas), Atsushi Nara (Geography, SDSU), Xianfeng Yang (Civil Engineering, SDSU), and Sahar Ghanipoor Machiani (Civil Engineering, SDSU). The meeting included plenary presentations by invited experts, lightning talks, and focus group discussions. This workshop generated a final report to be published on the IBSS and IMEE project website. This year, our research theme was “Social Media Analytics and Decision Support Systems: Applications to Public Health and Crisis Management”. The dynamic supply of big data from millions of social media messages, GPS tracks, medical records, wireless sensors, electronic health records, web pages, and cellular phones, becomes an important research domain. Big data provide untapped potentials for analyzing dynamic human problems and enabling intelligent decision support systems for business analytics, disease outbreaks, crisis management, traffic patterns, urban dynamics, bioinformatics, and environmental changes. Big data offer golden opportunities for scientists to develop new smart decision support systems, which require transdisciplinary collaboration and research methodologies to integrate multiple perspectives into collaborative research endeavors. This workshop will build a collaborative platform for scientists and researchers to work together. Specific research questions addressed in the workshop included:

1. What theoretical models can facilitate prediction of public health crisis information diffusion and response?2. What are some innovative ways that health behavior theories have been applied to understanding the influence of social media on human behavioral health and health outcomes? 3. What critical information are potentially obtainable through crowd sourcing during crisis management, and what is an efficient process to produce insight and use this information?4. How to effectively consider the uncertainty of evacuation demand and deal with the trade off between efficiency and robustness in the evacuation model?5. Regarding user interface design and functionalities on a web-GIS based decision support system for crisis management, what are key elements that can be beneficial to stakeholders?


PI, Co-PIs, and Senior Personnel:

Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou (PI, SDSU) bio
Dr. Brian Spitzberg (IBSS Co-PI, SDSU) bio slides
Dr. Mark Gawron (IBSS Co-PI, SDSU) bio
Dr. Heather Corliss (IBSS Co-PI, SDSU) bio slides
Dr. Michael Peddecord (IBSS SDSU Affiliated)
Dr. Atsushi Nara (IMEE Co-PI, SDSU) bio slides
Dr. Sahar Ghanipoor Machiani (IMEE Co-PI, SDSU) bio slides
Dr. Xianfeng Yang (IMEE Co-PI, SDSU) bio slides
Dr. Jay Lee (Co-PI, Kent State) bio
Dr. Xinyue Ye (Co-PI, Kent State) bio paper slides
Dr. Xuan Shi (Co-PI, University of Arkansas) bio paper slides

Participant List

IBSS Project National Visiting Committee Members:
Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd (Associate Professor, Director of the Social Media Lab, Ryerson University, Canada) bio paper slides
Dr. May Yuan (Ashbel Smith Professor, Geospatial Information Sciences, UT-Dallas) bio slides

IMEE National Visiting Committee Members:
Dr. Satish Ukkusuri (Professor, Civil Engineering, Purdue University) bio paper
Dr. Tom Cova (Professor, Geography, Director of Center for Natural & Technological Hazards, University of Utah) bio paper
Mr. Michael Robles (San Diego County OES staff).

Dr. Haizhong Wang, Oregon State, (Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering) bio paper
Dr. Annice Kim (Senior Social Scientist, RTI International) bio paper
Dr. Hilary McMillan (Associate Professor, Geography, SDSU).
Dr. Lourdes Martinez (Communications, SDSU) bio paper slides
Ms. Leslie Ray (Senior Epidemiologist, County of San Diego HHS)
Dr. Xiaobai Liu (Computer Science, SDSU)
Dr. Ilkay Altintas (UCSD and CalIT2) slides
Mr. Ray Chaney (211 San Diego)
Dr. Jesse Nodora (UCSD Moores Cancer Center)
Dr. Gabriel Doyle (SDSU Linguistics) bio
Dr. Su Han (HDMA Post Doc, SDSU) slides

HDMA Center Research Team
Alejandra Coronado (Geography, SDSU)
Hao Zhang (Geography, SDSU)
Rick Zhang (Geography, SDSU)
Eva Sanchez (Urban, SDSU)
Nick Mesler (Civil engineering, SDSU)
Alpita Masurkar (Computer Science, SDSU)
Chanwoo JIN (new Ph.D. student)
Jaehee Park (new Ph.D. student)
Chi-Feng (Jeff) Yen (new M.S. student)
Ashley Aure (Linguistics, SDSU)
Caitlin Cole (Public Health, SDSU)