Social media data provide a great opportunity to investigate event flow in cities. Despite the advantages of social media data in these investigations, the data heterogeneity and big data size pose challenges to researchers seeking to identify useful information about events from the raw data. In addition, few studies have used social media posts to capture how events develop in space and time. This paper demonstrates an efficient approach based on machine learning and geovisualization to identify events and trace the development of these events in real-time. We conducted an empirical study to delineate the temporal and spatial evolution of a natural event (heavy precipitation) and a social event (Pope Francis’ visit to the US) in the New York City—Washington, DC regions. By investigating multiple features of Twitter data (message, author, time, and geographic location information), this paper demonstrates how voluntary local knowledge from tweets can be used to depict city dynamics, discover spatiotemporal characteristics of events, and convey real-time information.
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