How Expert Is the Crowd? Insights into Crowd Opinions on the Severity of Earthquake Damage

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The evaluation of earthquake damage is central to assessing its severity and damage characteristics. However, the methods of assessment encounter difficulties concerning the subjective judgments and interpretation of the evaluators. Thus, it is mainly geologists, seismologists, and engineers who perform this exhausting task. Here, we explore whether an evaluation made by semiskilled people and by the crowd is equivalent to the experts’ opinions and, thus, can be harnessed as part of the process. Therefore, we conducted surveys in which a cohort of graduate students studying natural hazards (n = 44) and an online crowd (n = 610) were asked to evaluate the level of severity of earthquake damage. The two outcome datasets were then compared with the evaluation made by two of the present authors, who are considered experts in the field. Interestingly, the evaluations of both the semiskilled cohort and the crowd were found to be fairly similar to those of the experts, thus suggesting that they can provide an interpretation close enough to an expert’s opinion on the severity level of earthquake damage. Such an understanding may indicate that although our analysis is preliminary and requires more case studies for this to be verified, there is vast potential encapsulated in crowd-sourced opinion on simple earthquake-related damage, especially if a large amount of data is to be handled.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • 1927 Jericho earthquake
  • crowd wisdom
  • earthquake damage
  • severity level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management


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