Detecting Social Changes Faster Than the Media

elderly man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper outdoors with an autumn background of trees

The post-COVID world is evolving fast. Policies, regulations, social issues, and citizens’ needs seem to change from day to day. While the media attempts to respond quickly, the reality is that they are not the fastest and most reliable source.


Decision-makers in the public sector need accurate information in real time to acclimate to our “new normal” and build the most relevant policies. The answer is using artificial intelligence to keep a real-time pulse on society and guide policy creation.

How AI Is Faster, More Efficient, and More Reliable Than the Media

Artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and the application of social data science do what human beings are unable to: analyze, extract, and make sense of unstructured social data in real time and at scale. This technology makes sense of text-based data — like social media updates, tweets, and forum posts — that are seemingly chaotic.

Beyond deciphering all of this data, the true value of AI is that it creates actionable insights. The data comes directly from citizens, making people’s voices count when in the development of public sector solutions, policies, and initiatives. 

Citibeats has proven how artificial intelligence reports on important issues faster than the media. We’ll take a closer look at two regional case studies since the emergence of COVID-19.

Citibeats AI Case #1: The hunger issue in Venezuela detected 11 days before the NY Times

In late April of 2020, the New York Times reported on hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic — most notably in Venezuela and Colombia. Citibeats launched a signal on this issue 11 days earlier when a 30-day quarantine was announced. Another spike was detected when the New York Times reported the story.

The advantage of artificial intelligence is not only that it analyzes and extracts insights faster, but it also recognizes and geolocates early signs. 

As such, Citibeats detected that the hunger issue extended beyond Venezuela and Colombia. Growing concerns were also noted in other countries, like Panama, Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala. Such a tool can help decision-makers anticipate changes and determine potential actions to mitigate problems.

Citibeats AI Case #2: Citizen unrest over lack of payment in Spain detected 15 days before La Vanguardia

On May 14, 2020, leading Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published an article reporting that the main concern of Spain’s citizens regarding the COVID-19 pandemic was the absence of payment from ERTO, the Spanish government’s subsidy program. 

Citibeats detected citizens’ concerns over lack of payment through ERTO two weeks before the publication of the La Vanguardia article.

Many of Citibeats’ clients rely on real-time social alerts to make faster, better-informed decisions During COVID-19, this has been critical for protecting and serving communities. Relying on the media is simply not enough given the volatility of the current global situation. 

As we collectively respond to the “new normal,” accessing accurate information in real time will be critical to building social policies proactively.

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