Using Large-Scale Social Media Networks as a Scalable Sensing System for Modeling Real-Time Energy Utilization Patterns

Todd Bodnar, Matthew L. Dering, Conrad Tucker, Kenneth M. Edu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The hypothesis of this paper is that topics, expressed through large-scale social media networks, approximate electricity utilization events (e.g., using high power consumption devices such as a dryer) with high accuracy. Traditionally, researchers have proposed the use of smart meters to model device-specific electricity utilization patterns. However, these techniques suffer from scalability and cost challenges. To mitigate these challenges, we propose a social media network-driven model that utilizes large-scale textual and geospatial data to approximate electricity utilization patterns, without the need for physical hardware systems (e.g., such as smart meters), hereby providing a readily scalable source of data. The methodology is validated by considering the problem of electricity use disaggregation, where energy consumption rates from a nine-month period in San Diego, coupled with 1.8 million tweets from the same location and time span, are utilized to automatically determine activities that require large or small amounts of electricity to accomplish. The system determines 200 topics on which to detect electricity-related events and finds 38 of these to be valid descriptors of energy utilization. In addition, a comparison with electricity consumption patterns published by domain experts in the energy sector shows that our methodology both reproduces the topics reported by experts, while discovering additional topics. Finally, the generalizability of our model is compared with a weather-based model, provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7736047
Pages (from-to)2627-2640
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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