Breaking up big data: social messages hidden in the complaints matrix

From details in the census to the content of complaints, governments, local authorities and other public bodies have a mine of data about the communities they serve – and there are serious lessons that can be learnt from it.

And though sifting through masses of unstructured information may seem a laborious and mind-boggling task, there’s now technology available which can cut through the complexity and quickly churn out some pretty useful stuff.

In Hong Kong, for example, the contact centre which handles queries and complaints for many government departments uses analytics to sift through data to find patterns, trends and social issues.

Every year this contact centre receives 2.65 million calls and 98,000 emails. Rather than simply reactively dealing with these requests and complaints, the centre’s new IT system allows it to identify common problems affecting large groups of people and address these proactively.

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