UN Global Pulse honored for research using SAS® social media, text analytics

Awarded Computerworld 2013 Honors Laureate; online conversations analyzed in US and Ireland to improve social programs, policy

UN Global Pulse, a United Nations initiative addressing socioeconomic crises, has earned Computerworld’s 2013 Honors Laureate designation. Using SAS® Analytics, Global Pulse analyzed social media chatter and sentiment to predict unemployment increases and inform policymakers of likely effects.

"Global Pulse arose from the very pointed recognition that there's a need for real-time information," said UN Strategic Communications and Partnership Officer Anoush Tatevossian. "The initiative examines how new types of data can strengthen official statistics on how global crises affect people. Using a powerful new data source – global social media – SAS and UN Global Pulse demonstrated how advanced analytics can provide real-time insights for policymakers and improve the ability to manage disruptive events."

Global Pulse used SAS Social Media Analytics and SAS Text Analytics to dig into data from 500,000 blogs, forums, and news sites in the US and Ireland. SAS compared mood scores and conversation volume with official unemployment statistics to see if changes in these measures were indicators of spikes in unemployment.

Collecting online data from social media channels can provide insight into how people are coping with crises. Global Pulse's analysis revealed that increased chatter about cutting back on groceries, increasing use of public transportation and downgrading one's automobile represent leading, indicators of an unemployment spike.

After a spike, surges in social media conversations about such topics as canceled vacations, reduced health care spending, and foreclosures or evictions shed light on lagging economic effects.

"This kind of information is invaluable to policymakers trying to mitigate the negative effects of increased unemployment," said Tatevossian.

In 2013, the Computerworld Honors program recognized 267 organizations using big data and analytics for social good. Global Pulse was recognized in the Emerging Technology category. The Computerworld Honors program, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is the longest running award program to honor individuals and organizations using information technology to promote social, economic and educational change.

Read more about how Global Pulse uses SAS in this interview with Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of Global Pulse, by SAS Executive Vice President Mikael Hagstrom: http://www.sas.com/news/feature/how-can-tweets-affect-policy-decisions.html

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