The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


17 Oct 2018 | 5pm | Dr Stuart Middleton

17 October 2018, 5:00 pm–6:00 pm

Tree in front of the portico facing UCL's main quad

CASA continues our autumn seminar programme with Dr Stuart Middleton presenting on "Geospatial Research Into Social Media & Online Marketplaces For Disaster Management, Breaking News & UK Illegal Plant Trade".

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Ana Basiri


G03 Lecture Theatre
26 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Note: The PDF of Dr Middleton's lecture can be accessed here:

Real-time geoparsing and information extraction from social media streams, online marketplaces and online forums is providing a new 'virtual sensor' capability for open source intelligence (OSINT). End users such as emergency response agencies (e.g. Tsunami early warning centres, Civil protection authorities), news agencies (e.g. Deutsche Welle, BBC News) and law enforcement agencies (e.g. UK Border Force, National Crime Agency) are all actively investigating how best to use this new data to support their day to day requirements.

Research challenges in this area revolve around scalability (i.e. volume of data), trust (i.e. veracity of the content) and responding to the dynamic nature of the content (i.e. velocity & variety of emerging topics). Social media data volumes are often large, with GBytes of text easily obtainable in near-real-time. Algorithm scalability is critical for near-real-time processing, so efficient indexing and/or naive parallelization is important. In the online world fake news is rife so analysing the provenance of sources is very important for verification, along with cross-checking contextual information around factual claims. Natural language processing (NLP) and open information extraction (OpenIE) approaches typically work with large corpus of example posts, or hand crafted language patterns and/or vocabularies. In fast moving events (e.g. breaking news) locations or topics of interest emerge and evolve in real-time, so training data is limited or non-existent.
In this seminar I will present work from three projects (TRIDEC, REVEAL, FloraGuard), outlining the algorithms we designed for near real-time geoparsing and information extraction, and the geospatial information systems (GIS) that used them to provide decision support. I will show the results we obtained, and outlines some lessons learnt along the way.


About the Speaker

Dr Stuart Middleton

at University of Southampton

Dr Stuart E. Middleton is a senior research engineer at the University of Southampton, Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), IT Innovation Centre. He has over the last 16 years made internationally recognized contributions to research in the computational linguistics and information extraction areas, often including interdisciplinary work. He has been a PI and CoI on various EU H2020, Innovate UK, Home Office and Research Council projects. Recent projects include EU FP7 REVEAL project (geoparsing, information extraction and social media verification for breaking news), EU H2020 GRAVITATE project (natural language processing and semantic enrichment of cultural heritage databases), DSTL ACE ‘Human-machine teaming for intelligence analysis’ project (open source information extraction for military intelligence analysis) and ESRC FloraGuard (information extraction around UK illegal plant trade from online marketplaces). He has over 40 peer reviewed research papers & journal articles and book chapters and created the Python PyPI geoparsing library ‘geoparsepy’.

Web resources:

Stuart Middleton