It's official: Twitter is made out of magic. Or- something close to it at the very least. Scientists at The New England Complex Systems Institute have figured out an ingenious (and seemingly simple) way of checking the emotional and/or sentimental pulse of a city, all by utilizing collected Twitter data. Tested out on the bustling city of New York, The NECSI analyzed collected data of millions of tweets with algorithms that checked key words, phrases and emoticons to determine the mood of the tweets. By combining that info with geotagging provided by users the data is compiled into an overview "mood map" of the city, giving a very clear real-time snapshot of how a cities population is feeling and where they're feeling it.
The study, dryly titled "Sentiment in New York City: A High Resolution Spatial and Temporal View" gave some interesting clues into how we feel in relationship to our location. Moods tended to be more positive around public parks such as Central Park and The New York Botanical Garden and adversely moods tended to be most negative "around transportation hubs such as the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn Bridge, Penn Station and Port Authority, and the two airports: JFK and LaGuardia." And if timing is your thing, you're in luck. The map also clocked what times of the day were more positive (moods peaked at midnight) and negative (dipped between 9am-12pm).
Quality of Life" study is nothing new, but by utilizing the willingly shared info via micro-blogging social media like Twitter, this data has never been more useful nor accurate towards figuring out what a population is feeling, right now. While it could simply seem like a neat trick to show off to your Behavioral Science buddies on campus, this map has far reaching implications. The boon this information would be to urban planners, politicians or essentially anyone working with or marketing to the public would be absolutely immeasurable. Taking a pulse of the mood of a major metro area has never been as timely (or necessary) as it is now. We look forward to seeing how and if this program rolls out to other major cities around the world.
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