Targeted Engagement for a Community in Crisis


The Opportunity: To support the City of Tustin in its crisis management response to a devastating fire by analyzing and mapping the community’s online engagement and comments.


Photo by Orange County Fire Authority (source: twitter.com)

More than 1,500 homes and 14,000 people were reported to be impacted after an aviation hangar caught fire in November 2023 in Tustin, California. The fire caused asbestos-containing debris and other matter from the Navy North Hangar to be released and to spread into surrounding private and public properties.

The hangar is nestled in the middle of a vibrant residential and commercial development. The impacts of the fire were immediate, with closures affecting nearly 30 schools, 12 parks, several public roads, rail lines, and a police station.

Reports of debris and community comments were scattered across social media sites and online forums. AlphaVu was selected to analyze these comments and provide advice on the city’s response.

Insights to Deliver the Right Message to the Right Audience

With tens of thousands of people affected by the incident, the City of Tustin needed support in listening to feedback and conducting online engagement with its residents. The city chose AlphaVu to collect and analyze comments across a wide variety of platforms, including news media sites and social media channels.

AlphaVu parsed conversations so that city officials can tell which conversations are coming from its residents versus those coming from outside the area. This helped them know which concerns to prioritize. AlphaVu scored each comment to provide city officials with trends in public sentiment, which allowed the city to measure its effectiveness in responding to the needs of residents.

Conversation about the Fire Spreads Across Reddit

The social media channel Reddit is a popular site among Southern California residents, so analysts at AlphaVu began to track keywords and conversations that were occurring on the platform.

Unlike other leading social media platforms, posts on Reddit are open for readers to access without a user account, which makes it one of the most open social platforms in America. News media outlets often follow trending topics on Reddit to learn of breaking news and to gain leads on eyewitness accounts.

AlphaVu provided real-time monitoring of topics and keywords on Reddit so that city officials were aware of community issues as they happened.

AlphaVu’s Undivided Attention to Crisis Communication

The City of Tustin staff worked long hours in a crisis situation to address the urgent concerns of citizens. With attention coming not only from the city’s residents but also local, state, and national media, the pressure to respond accurately and as timely as possible was intense.

AlphaVu helped city staff distinguish between comments from city residents and comments from county residents. This allowed them to focus primarily on local concerns and avoid distraction from outside areas expressing their own opinions.


Using AlphaVu’s insights, the city staff determined which messages and channels were most effective at helping residents attach to factual information rather than the copious amounts of misinformation circulating online.


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