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Social Media Analysis Provides New Tools for Public Policy 

Global Pulse uses  SAS® Social Media Analytics and  SAS Text Miner to understand leading, lagging indicators of surges in food prices, fuel prices and unemployment 

Jakarta  (Oct. 02, 2012)  – In March 2012, SAS and Global Pulse—a United Nations' innovation initiative—partnered on a joint research study and discovered that mood and sentiment analysis of public social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs could be used to warn policy makers of pending unemployment spikes. Now, SAS and Global Pulse have again partnered to explore how analysis of online conversation about food prices, fuel prices and unemployment could support faster, better targeting of national social protection programs. In a new collaborative research effort, two years of digital data from social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, hundreds of blogs, forums and news sites have been collected and analyzed with SAS® Social Media Analytics and SAS Text Miner.

Erwin Sukiato, Country Manager of SAS Indonesia said, "Our task is to assist Global Pulse in supporting the work of Government in the use of emerging technologies such as text analytics and social media analytics for the protection of vulnerable populations in the country."

Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of Global Pulse, said, "Though its contribution of analytics tools, access to sources of big data, and human expertise, our continued collaboration with SAS has been tremendous in helping us explore how analysis of new, digital data sources can help us better understand how communities are coping."

At a launch event recently for Global Pulse's innovation lab in Indonesia ("Pulse Lab Jakarta") - SAS demonstrated the analytics workflow of SAS Social Media Analytics as follows:

  • Monitor more than 200,000 online Indonesian documents created every day.
  • Extract relevant discussion on rice, cooking oil, fuel and employment.
  • Capture sentiment and mood of social media content.
  • Detect location, price, availability, specific government programs.
  • Explore results with graphs, statistics, charts and demographic.

As an example: on the issue of unemployment, several objectives of the program were about addressing questions such as: "Can we understand qualitative experiences and feelings around unemployment to complement official statistics?"; "Can online conversations provide an early indicator of impending job losses?"; "Can the data help policy makers enrich their understanding of how communities cope?"

In this exercise, SAS Text Analytics was used to uncover key themes related to coping with economic stress, perform content categorisation and text analytic model scoring to assign metric to mood state dimensions. Social media data was then correlated with macroeconomic and unemployment metrics. Longitudinal analytical models and algorithms were used to leading and lagging indicators of trends such as inflation and unemployment.

SAS® Social Media Analytics is a solution that could capture several months data, along with online reviews from traditional sites and other social media sites, then categorised and then load the data into a decision support environment. The data is then integrated with offline attributes such as official statistics, and other online metrics into policymaker-centric criteria. It enables policymakers to turn insight into action by gaining access to information they can act on through a user friendly media intelligence portal.

Erwin added, "SAS Indonesia is pleased to be able to support the Pulse Lab Jakarta and the Government of Indonesian in learning how big data analytics may provide faster access to information and new insights."


Global Pulse is an innovation initiative of the UN Secretary-General, which functions as an R&D lab harnessing big data and real-time analytics for global development. Pulse Lab Jakarta, a hub for testing, researching and applying the latest innovations to local development challenges, was launched in October 2012 through a partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia's Ministry of Development Planning.

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