Public service IT association says assessing attitudes with technology can feed into service development
Sentiment analysis could provide a useful technique in the development of public services, according to a new briefing from public sector IT association Socitm.
Sentiment analysis: a useful technique? suggests the potential to use the technique is growing as many senior IT managers are now responsible for customer service and digital access channels. While it is unlikely that public authorities will set up their own sentiment analysis facilities, they could use one of the commercial services on offer.
Also known as opinion mining, sentiment analysis involves assessing opinions, attitudes and emotions on issues through the use of natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics.
Its potential has grown with the rise of social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, which are delivering huge quantities of opinionated text in digital form. This is particularly suitable for processing using linguistics and natural language processing.
The briefing warns that there are pitfalls, many to do with potential misinterpretation by computer systems of how words and phrases are used in real life. But these should not stop public sector managers giving serious consideration to sentiment analysis, notably for assessing reactions to new digital services.
Initially it could be used to validate what an organisations are already doing, but as they become more experienced in the technique they could use it assess how customers would react to future service designs.
“Like algorithm based search engines, sentiment analysis can be employed as a ‘black box’ solution, providing those buying into it are able to have an informed and critical conversations with potential solution providers and identify those that have addressed these issues with machine learning and other techniques,” Socitm said in an accompanying statement.
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