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How AI Technology Beats the Media to Fast, Reliable News

On May 14th, a leading newspaper in Spain, La Vanguardia, published an attention-grabbing article titled:

 “ERTO benefits aren’t arriving: ‘So when do I get paid?”


ERTO is a COVID-19 response initiative in Spain that involves a temporary stop of the contractual relationship between a company and an employee. The government pays a subsidy to the employees so that companies do not have to pay salaries when they can’t generate business.

So the newspaper “broke” the news that one of the top concerns of Spain’s citizens regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is getting paid by the government, as they were promised. Making a living to provide for family is flagged as the main cause for current society’s anxiety and distress.

In fact, Citibeats detected the same occurrence of citizens’ concerns over personal financial security – specifically about not receiving payment through ERTO – but almost two weeks prior to the La Vanguardia article.

The graph below shows that social comments made about families and individuals who have not yet collected from ERTE.  

As illustrated above, comments about this issue increase significantly starting April 27, and Citibeats detects it on May 4. 10 days later, when the maximum conversation volume is practically reached, La Vanguardia publishes its article.

Impact Report 2019

Impact report

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How was Citibeats able to detect this social dissatisfaction so much earlier than the media?

The answer lies in Artificial Intelligence and the application of social data science. The science part involves making sense of social data – that is, text-based data that are generated digitally via social media, communication platforms, and so on – which are chaotic and disorderly by nature. 

Through the use of AI and Natural Language Processing, creating viable data sets out of the social mess becomes possible because technology is able to analyze, extract and make sense of the confusion in a way that humans cannot. The beauty of it is that the data relates to actual human beings and their societal behavior – making people the focus.

So, in the case of COVID-19, Citibeats’ AI technology was able to signal the social unrest and cause of distress from the comments being made by the community itself via social data channels. Because all of this happens in real-time, results are much quicker and more reliable because they’re coming directly from the source (the citizens).

As we continue to adjust to and prepare for our new normal, getting fast and accurate information in real time is fundamental for guiding our new policies. This global pandemic is unchartered territory for us all, so we need to listen to each other and be open to ideas from all angles based on real needs. We’re in this together.

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