A Listening Center In Government?

Thetitle may put you off.  You may be
thinking that we’ve all been reading that the NSA has been doing plenty of

are there other uses for listening by the government? – not necessarily for
national security or to listen in to personal phone calls? 

social media on the Internet have developed over the last several years,
companies have found a gold mine of information that can help them better
understand their customers’ views, needs and moods – and to better assess the
value (or lack of value) of the products and services they offer.

called sentiment analysis,
this has been applied in a variety of ways. 
(Note: in a blog post I can only touch upon what is a large, developing
and growing topic, so if this intrigues you, use this piece as just a starting

firms use sentiment analysis to determine the future direction of corporate
securities.  See, for example, Stock SonarSentiment140
is a company that measures sentiment about product and brands.

CrowdFlower uses five million people in
its sentiment projects.  Earlier this
week, the company released its Data For Everyone Library
which makes that information available on topics as different as immigration, Coachella
2015, wearable technology and sports, among others.

Software to analyze sentiment, either with
or without human assistance, is a major focus of research in various
universities and tech businesses.  One of
many examples that you can try for free is at http://www.danielsoper.com/sentimentanalysis/default.aspx .

Kapsik project is another example.  As an illustration, their website shows the
trend in sentiment about London Mayor Boris


expect that there would be many elected and other public officials who might
want to check their daily sentiment index. 
Now they can do it.

it’s not just about satisfying the egos or re-election needs of individuals.

can use sentiment analysis of publicly available tweets, posts, etc. on the Internet
as an important addition to their toolkit of ways to understand what is working
and not working for their constituents. 
It can also be a way to discover issues that are bubbling up, but haven’t
yet reached the stage where they explode in the faces of officials.

Tufts University Urban Attitudes Lab
has also been using this kind of analysis in urban planning.

as the title of this post suggests, we need to go beyond merely analyzing
social media.

of the more advanced listening posts is described in an article titled, “Southwest
Airlines Takes Customer Listening to New Heights

“The airline launches a Listening Center to centralize social, industry, and operational data. … [It] is an internal resource that combines social conversations, industry news, and operational data into one central hub… To monitor what customers are saying about the brand, industry, or a specific topic, Southwest uses a keyword-based listening tool that pulls in mentions from social platforms like Twitter. As for staying on top of its operational information, like departures and arrivals, Southwest has a satellite Listening Center inside of its Network Operations Control center (NOC). This real-time insight allows the airline to identify issues and engagement opportunities quickly … and then react accordingly via the channels that customers are using.”

Government could combine into one hub its own operational data, news about other important events going on in the public and private sectors and what citizens are saying in public forums.  Now that’s a listening post that would provide clear positive benefits for everyone – without any scary Big Brother controversies.

© 2015 Norman Jacknis