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Zencity tracks US residents’ coronavirus concerns

The report aims to help city leaders shape policies and provide accurate, timely information to their communities on the unfolding public health crisis.

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Zencity has analysed millions of online public conversations from over 100 US cities to highlight citizens’ concerns and priorities around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

The company’s platform of the same name monitors and aggregates online discourse in real-time and provides AI-driven insights for local governments.

 

Since March 1, Zencity has analysed over 1.5 million online interactions about coronavirus. This includes social media posts, tweets, likes, comments, shares and retweets, etc.

 

Public health has featured in 21 per cent of the conversations in the tracked US cities, compared to five per cent usually. Public-safety-related topics typically dominate community concerns, with 18 per cent of the discussion. Now, public health, schools and festivals/events are the main topics – all in relation to coronavirus.

 

Zencity used topic modelling and clustering to identify what people are specifically talking about, to indicate what they are most interested in or concerned with.

 

Zencity used topic modelling and clustering to identify what people are specifically talking about, to indicate what they are most interested in or concerned with.

 

“This information can help local government officials shape both policy and messaging, focusing on the issues that people care about the most,” said Eyal Feder-Levy, CEO, Zencity, in a post on Medium.

 

The analysis concluded that school closures, event cancellations, public transport and the impact on business and employment were the top issues. Other concerns include the impact on bars and restaurants and panic buying. A small share of the conversations was dedicated to the impact of coronavirus on city services such as waste collection and public works.

Image: Zencity via Medium
Image: Zencity via Medium

Regional variation

 

The data also found that while residents were broadly concerned with similar issues across all cities, there were differences in priorities and conversation drivers across regions, which might require different action from local governments.

 

For instance, in California, school closures were a major topic, while conversation in Florida was centred on the possible impact on the local economy. In Texas, the discussion was driven by proactive measures and preparedness efforts across the state, as well as concerns about potential mismanagement of patients by authorities. Later on, a large share of the discourse focused on events being cancelled.

 

Across all three states, the volume of discussion about coronavirus was relatively low throughout February but picked up intensely at the end of February/early March, as residents of these states first tested positive for coronavirus and events began to be cancelled.

Image: Zencity via Medium
Image: Zencity via Medium

Feder-Levy said: “The men and women of local governments, public safety and public health organisations are at the frontlines of tackling this crisis. One of their key responsibilities at this time is to share effective and reliable information with their communities, and to take immediate action around the issues that concern their residents. This report, aggregated from real discourse of multiple communities, provides an understanding of what are some of the key issues every city/county needs to be tackling to directly address their communities’ needs.”

 

"This report, aggregated from real discourse of multiple communities, provides an understanding of what are some of the key issues every city/county needs to be tackling to directly address their communities’ needs.”

 

“We salute these professionals for carrying out their vital tasks at this crucial time,” he added.

 

Zencity is used by over 120 cities and counties in the US. It tracks multiple online channels and also uses geolocation data to pinpoint discourse according to specific neighbourhoods.

 

Read the full report on Medium.

 

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