Councils urged to consider social media opinion mining

Councils should consider procuring sentiment analysis services from the private sector to guage reaction to their digital improvements on social media, according to sector representative body Socitm.

In a new briefing, the organisation for public sector ICT professionals said that sentiment analysis technology can help ICT heads to aggregate opinions, attitudes and emotions.

Although public sector bodies are unlikely to create their own sentiment analysis facilities, Socitm said that councils should consider buying one of the commercial services on offer.

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A statement from Socitm said: “Initially, organisations might use sentiment analysis simply to validate what they are doing, but experience of the technique matures, the next step would be to use it as a learning tool, applying information gleaned from customer reaction to development of future service designs.”

Socitm’s briefing provides an overview of current practice in the field in an attempt to help ICT professionals formulate questions for use in discussions with possible providers.

Sentiment analysis uses data mining and natural language processing which can be applied to social media to deliver large volumes of opinion.

However, Socitm warned that councils need to be aware that computer systems can misinterpret the way that words and phrases are used in real life situations.

“But these challenges should not stop public sector managers giving serious consideration to sentiment analysis,” the statement said.

Colin Marrs

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