A social media Data-Driven analysis for transport policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in Wuhan, China

Wenbin Zha, Qian Ye, Jian Li, Kaan Ozbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-pharmacological interventions (NPI) such as social distancing and lockdown are essential in preventing and controlling emerging pandemic outbreaks. Many countries worldwide implemented lockdowns during the COVID-19 outbreaks. However, due to the lack of prior experience and knowledge about the pandemic, it is challenging to deal with short-term polices decision-making due to the highly stochastic and dynamic nature of the COVID-19. Thus, there is a need for the exploration of policy decision analysis to help agencies to adjust their current policies and adopt quickly. In this study, an analytical methodology is developed to analysis urban transport policy response for pandemic control based on social media data. Compared to traditional surveys or interviews, social media can provide timely data based on the feedback from public in terms of public demands, opinions, and acceptance of policy implementations. In particular, a sentiment-aware pre-trained language model is fine-tuned for sentiment analysis of policy. The Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) model is used to classify documents, e.g., posts collected from social media, into specific topics in an unsupervised manner. Then, entropy weights method (EWM) is used to extract public policy demands based on the classified topics. Meanwhile, a Jaccard distance-based approach is proposed to conduct the response analysis of policy adjustments. A retrospective analysis of transport policies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China is presented using the developed methodology. The results show that the developed policymaking support methodology can be an effective tool to evaluate the acceptance of anti-pandemic policies from the public's perspective, to assess the balance between policies and people's demands, and to further perform the response analysis of a series of policy adjustments based on online feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103669
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Jaccard Distance
  • Latent Dirichlet Allocation
  • Pandemics
  • Social Media Data
  • Urban Transport Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Transportation
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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