United Nations Keeps its Finger on the Global Pulse with DataSift

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

The United Nations’ Global Pulse initiative is partnering with DataSift to analyze worldwide opinions on vaccinations, poverty and other humanitarian topics. Here’s how they do it.

Do Kenyans tweet more about education or healthcare? Do people in Venezuela complain about government corruption, or talk more about the need for affordable food? These are just some of the questions The United Nations’ Global Pulse initiative is trying to answer with DataSift. The results are being fed into an ongoing process to identify what the new global development goals should be in 2015 and beyond.

This is DataSift at its best: quantifying the topics people talk about in everyday language as a proxy for what they are preoccupied with and what they therefore might prioritize as important in their life.

Judging the thoughts and thinking of Venezuelans and Kenyans is the tip of the United Nations Global Pulse iceberg. Global Pulse data scientists in New York, Jakarta and Kampala are also using DataSift to analyze Human Data from millions of social media posts to tackle issues such as disease outbreaks, unemployment and food security.

Other research projects include examining attitudes toward immunization to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases, and understanding how families cope when faced with rapid increases in the price of staple foodstuffs.

One notable innovation is to study historic events and compare these with official statistics to validate whether the social media research is an accurate reflection of other types of data collection. Often, those types of data will be available months later, so often, the researchers will have to go back in time to make the comparisons and to figure out whether social media can be used as a proxy indicator for some particular topic. DataSift filtering also enables the team to develop projects quickly and in multiple languages.

Global Pulse developed a social media monitoring dashboard to explore multi-language online conversations about climate change around the world in support of the climate summit that was held at UN headquarters in September 2014. Another interesting project is looking to social media and news and blogs as a way to understand how people perceive immunization and vaccination in different countries.

You can read the full UN Global Pulse case study is this fascinating new IDC report, “Unlocking the Power of Human Data“, sponsored by DataSift.

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Written by Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Zuzanna is SVP, Marketing at DataSift. You can follow her @fattypontoonski.

Share This