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Bayesian Model Fusion for Forecasting Civil Unrest

Summary: With the rapid rise in social media, alternative news sources, and blogs, ordinary citizens have become information producers as much as information consumers. Highly charged prose, images, and videos spread virally, and stoke the embers of social unrest by alerting fellow citizens to relevant happenings and spurring them into action. We are interested in using Big Data approaches to generate forecasts of civil unrest from open source indicators. The heterogenous nature of data coupled with the rich and diverse origins of civil unrest call for a multi-model approach to such forecasting. We present a modular approach wherein a collection of models use overlapping sources of data to independently forecast protests. Fusion of alerts into one single alert stream becomes a key system informatics problem and we present a statistical framework to accomplish such fusion. Given an alert from one of the numerous models, the decision space for fusion has two possibilities: (i) release the alert or (ii) suppress the alert. Using a Bayesian decision theoretical framework, we present a fusion approach for releasing or suppressing alerts. The resulting system enables real-time decisions and more importantly tuning of precision and recall. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

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  • Topics: Social Responsibility, Risk Management
  • Keywords: Bayesian methods, Algorithm, Forecasting, Prediction, Probability
  • Author: Hoegh, Andrew; Leman, Scotland; Saraf, Parang; Ramakrishnan, Naren
  • Journal: Technometrics