Product Briefing: Social Indicators With Insights

Desktop showing mac and notebook along with Citibeats platform on computer with gender analytics

For decades, governments have often relied on surveys and other traditional methods to understand public perceptions and contextualize responses to some of society’s most significant issues.

However, such methods—while effective—lack the urgency necessary to respond to serious challenges as they’re occurring—from the climate crisis to skyrocketing inflation.

In order to create policies that are inclusive and relevant to citizen needs, it is paramount that global leaders leverage real-time data to not only facilitate actionable solutions based on populational concerns, but perform early risk remediation by utilizing the most effective modern tools at your disposal, such as social indicators.

What Are Social Indicators?

By collecting commentaries from various online platforms, such as social media, blog forums, discussion boards, and other digital communities, Citibeats' social understanding technology generates actionable insights regarding the most pressing citizen concerns—from unemployment to food insecurity and much more.

When civil society is confronted with a significant event or is impacted by long-simmering issues, social indicators target key online citizen expressions to identify such changes and guide actionable intervention

Certain expressions of institutional distrust, civic unrest, polarization, empowerment, and perception of political issues—inflation, for example—, are often followed by government intervention. Our tool can also analyze volumes of online documents and how they relate to important issues impacting populations. 

So, how does Citibeats analyze and translate social discussions into actionable data? We use multilingual intent detectors—language-agnostic technology that understands citizen motivation in making an online post, whether expressing fear, sharing gratitude, asking for advice, or voicing a complaint.

Let’s take a closer look at each social indicator and its properties:

  • Institutional Distrust:
    Online expressions reflecting a lack of confidence in executive, legislative, and judicial powers, or state security forces and institutions in general.
    • For example: “Our government is not to be trusted.”
  • Civic Unrest:
    Citizen expressions of frustration, pain, or resentment caused by political, social, or economical factors. This indicator identifies attacks on citizen dignity, perceptions of invisibility, or signs of marginalization, which could be a predictor of societal breakdown. The indicator also analyzes other important developments in society, such as social empowerment. 
    • For example: “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer here in [country].”
  • Polarization:
    Expressions of divided public opinion regarding a topic into two extremes that often clash with each other.
    • For example: “Those [‘other’ side] are a bunch of [insult].
  • Perception of Inflation:
    Expressions of fear or anticipation regarding rising cost of living based on citizen experiences and economic perceptions.
    • For example: “These long lines at the gas stations are concerning. Five dollars a gallon was bad enough, but what if we run out?”
  • Empowerment:
    Reflects the perceived capacity of groups or individuals to exert power and influence in politics. This indicator also includes political communication aiming to promote empowerment around a campaign and calls for transparency.
    • For example: “Our votes don’t matter anyway.”
  • Volume of Documents:
    Measurement of relevant documentation collected regarding a subject.

  • Volume of Voices:
    Amount of citizen perspectives collected via social media, blog posts, forum discussions, and other interfaces concerning a topic. 

Insights from Citibeats’ Perception of Inflation Model 

Citibeats’ perception of inflation model recently contextualized the unprecedented protests unfolding in Panama as locals advocate for fairer economic conditions amid rampant inflation and systemic inequities

Since protests began in early July, Citibeats’ perception of inflation indicator reflected a 70% surge—directly paralleled by the country’s unprecedented uprisings.

However, the metric not only reflects the protests and other immediate concerns, but unearths compounding structural reasons and conjunctural implications for unrest that have been building for years—from economic inequities and unemployment to healthcare and tourism.

Structural Reasons:

Despite the World Bank’s optimistic forecast for Panama in 2022, many citizens felt an increase in GDP would be inconsequential due to economic inequities, according to Citibeats’ data. Increased complaints about unemployment pay also indicate people feel insecure about making long-term investments for fear of job loss.

Conjunctural Implications:

Panama President Laurentino Cortizo’s recent trip to Houston for medical checks ignited conversations regarding the quality of the Panamanian healthcare system and overall health inequality. Protest-induced tourism declines have fueled online sentiments that tourism has no positive impact on economies—following a structural pattern already expressed in 2022, according to Citibeats’ data.

Whether evident in Panamanian constitutional reform protests in 2019 or profound equality gaps, citizen unrest clearly goes beyond only today’s socioeconomic conditions, but rather, is deeply rooted in systemic inequities.

Social indicators ensure such narratives underscoring these crucial changes do not go unnoticed, and that decision-makers can actively incorporate them into inclusive policies and permanent solutions.


Actionability: What Distinguishes Citibeats Social Indicators 

While surveys and traditional methods may paint a wide brush of populational sentiments at a given moment, Citibeats’ real-time data highlights the most pressing community concerns as they unfold.

Not only do these actionable insights empower governments to devise inclusive policies and long-term solutions, but proactive remediation—with social indicators serving as warning signs that societal changes are occurring.

Citibeats’ insights then support decisions in areas our clients have influence by identifying a problem and the narratives that support it, comparing levels of concern by region, monitoring increases or decreases in an issue’s prevalence, and understanding an action’s partial impact by analyzing the volume of voices discussing it.

For instance, when rising inflation leaves families struggling to make ends meet, decision-makers can devise proactive solutions and implement long-term economic solutions to reform systemic inequities—while actively monitoring these actions’ partial impact via volume of voices indicators.

When climate change-induced disasters disproportionately impact developing communities, governments can gauge disaster-prone areas by analyzing levels of concern by region, proactively protect those areas, and fund adaptation financing to support resiliency.

The list goes on.

Fundamentally, Citibeats’ social indicators immediately notify lawmakers of evolving changes, empower early intervention, and facilitate unprecedented actionability for more inclusive policies, risk mitigation, and better quality of life.


Citibeats leverages ethical AI for social understanding, utilizing social indicators such as institutional distrust, civic unrest, polarization, perception of inflation, empowerment, and volumes of documents or voices to detect changes and empower actionable solutions.

Schedule a demo today to learn more.