On May 14th, leading Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published an attention-grabbing article: “ERTO benefits aren’t arriving: ‘So when do I get paid?”
ERTO is a COVID-19 response initiative in Spain that involves a temporary stop of the contractual relationship between a company and an employee. The government pays a subsidy to the employee so that the company does not have to pay their salary when it can’t generate business.
The newspaper “broke” the news that one of the top concerns of Spain’s citizens regarding the COVID-19 pandemic was getting paid by the government as they were promised. Making a living was flagged as a main cause of anxiety and distress.
Citibeats detected the same concerns almost two weeks before the La Vanguardia article.
The graph below shows the rise in social comments about not receiving ERTO payments.
As shown, comments about this issue increased significantly starting April 27, and Citibeats detected it on May 4. La Vanguardia published its article 10 days later, near the peak of the conversation volume.
How Did Citibeats Detect Social Dissatisfaction So Much Earlier Than the Media?
The answer lies in artificial intelligence and the application of social data science. The science part involves making sense of disorderly text-based social data generated digitally via social media, communication platforms, and so on.
AI and natural language processing enable us to create viable data sets out of the social mess. From there, our technology can analyze, extract, and interpret the flood of information in a way that humans cannot. The beauty of it is that the data relates to actual human beings and their societal behavior, making people the focus.
In the case of COVID-19, Citibeats’ AI technology detected social unrest and the cause of distress from the comments made by the community via social data channels. This happened in real time, so the results were quicker and more reliable because they came directly from the source: citizens themselves.
As we continue to adjust to our new normal, fast and accurate information is fundamental for guiding policies. The global pandemic is uncharted territory for us all, so we need to listen to each other and be open to ideas from all angles. We’re in this together.