NATIONAL CENTRE FOR SCIENTIFIC
RESEARCH «DEMOKRITOS»
PUBLIC RELATIONS & PRESS OFFICE
Press Release
Athens, 28 January 2013
 

Gov.Insight: an online application that gives voice to the public will

 

Every day, billions of people share their political, social, cultural, religious and other views online. This enormous information that is spread around the internet in millions of web pages, carries the “wisdom of the crowd”, the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than individual experts. However, every attempt to group or categorize these views, in order to draw the big picture or reach a conclusion regarding the public opinion, seems impossible.


In Greece, the first step was taken in November 2010, when a group of researchers from the Software and Knowledge Engineering Lab (SKEL) of the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of the NCSR “Demokritos” set the goal to group and analyze the public opinion that is addressed through the website of the Greek Open Government
(opengov.gr). Opengov.gr is an open consultation website, where everybody can discuss policy issues, such as legislation bills, law proposals, political provisions and other public administration issues.


The motive for this initiative was the public consultation regarding the tax law of March 2010, which gathered more than 13.000 comments. Due to the huge number of comments, it was almost impossible for the ministry officers to process on time all that information. It was then that the General Secretary of Information Systems asked for the help of NCSR “Demokritos” researchers in order to give a solution to the dead end.


Nevertheless, the public consultation mentioned above, is only one out of 240 consultations that are listed on the website opengov.gr. Every day, each ministry posts consultations, the citizens comment on them and the officers in charge read the comments, in some cases respond, and often feed the discussion with views and supporting material. When the consultation is closed, public administration officers, legislative groups and political strategy experts, process the citizens’ comments and reach conclusions regarding the public opinion.

However, the combination of the great number of comments with the lack of any kind of classification and organization, make the above process extremely difficult and time consuming. In order to bridge this organizational gap, NCSR “Demokritos” scientists, with head researcher Dr. George Paliouras and postdoctoral researchers Dr. Ilias Zavitsanos and Dr. George Giannakopoulos, developed a user-friendly and free online application that processes, organizes and classifies all the comments posted on opengov.gr.

This online application, called Gov.Insight, offers a variety of services. Firstly, it integrates a search engine that offers access to words and phrases within the public consultation articles and their comments. Secondly, this application helps organize the consultations by discussion topic, while, at the same time, it recognizes the use of common words in the text and groups discussions by detecting implied topics. Moreover, the system recognizes the most popular discussion subjects and the problems that arise in the consultations. Thirdly, a very interesting and innovative tool offered by this application, is sentiment analysis. For each comment that is posted, the system estimates whether the expressed opinion is negative, positive or neutral. Gathering all these “sentiments”, the public officers can reach a conclusion on the general “sentiments ” of the commenters on a specific article. Finally, using a dynamic word cloud generator, the application presents how the discussion content changes through time, depending on the words being used in the comments of each consultation.

Although Gov.Insight was primarily designed in order to assist the public officers, this application is open to all the internet users. Social and political analysts, researchers, students, journalists, as well as citizens who want to stay aware of legislative and political strategy issues can use this online application just by clicking on
http://gov.insight.iit.demokritos.gr.

The NCSR “Demokritos” laboratory that designed Gov.Insight, also participates in the research project NOMAD, which aims to make sure that the public opinion of European citizens is taken into account when designing policies. Using the immense amount of information available on the Internet (from public or private websites), NOMAD gathers, groups and analyzes the citizens’ opinions and recommendations that are expressed using any online medium, such as websites, blogs, fora, news sites, etc.

Relative Links:

Gov.Insight Navigation Video:


For further information about NOMAD Project:

 
For the N.C.S.R. "Demokritos"

The National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) "Demokritos" is the largest multidisciplinary research center in the country with substantial scientific research, technological and educational activities in the areas of: Health, Biology and Biotechnology, New Materials Micro & Nanotechnology, Environment - Energy and Sustainable Development, Information Technology & Telecommunications, Nuclear Physics & Elementary Particle Physics, Nuclear Technology & Radiation Protection, Cultural Heritage.

 

For more information please contact:

N.C.S.R. "Demokritos"
Public Relations & Press Office
Τel. +30-210-650-3002, 3040
Fax: 210-650-3260
email: pr@central.demokritos.gr