The internet is not only giving a voice to the public, it is assisting policymakers in serving people's needs
Social media has created a revolution in communications, providing people from all walks of life with a platform to voice their opinions and discuss their concerns. In doing so, it has provided decision-makers with a detailed insight into society, offering information that cannot be found elsewhere.
In the U.A.E., the government has recognised the critical role that social media can play in citizen engagement. With 60 per cent of the population actively participating on social media networks, the various arms of government are working out ways to incorporate the information they share into the policy-making process.
As The National reported yesterday, the social media brainstorming project announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, in December last year generated more than 82,000 ideas from the public and led to concrete changes in the way the country's education and health sectors operate.
Social media will increasingly be used by governments to engage with citizens and involve them in the decision-making process. It presents policymakers with an effective, real-time means of understanding society and its changing dynamics. This can range from responding to simple concerns – for example, about potholes in a road – to gauging the public mood on issues of national importance. Private enterprises can also use data gleaned from social media to understand and anticipate customers' needs and to position themselves in the marketplace.
But the sheer volume of information on social media presents a huge challenge. According to stats.ae, a website that monitors social media usage, people in this country post 2.5 million tweets a day. Add to that the traffic on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other platforms, and it's clear that there's an overwhelming amount of data to be analysed.
Without doubt, this is the age of big data. But it is also the age of increasingly sophisticated analytics and algorithms that can mine the useful data from the dross. Society has suddenly just got a whole lot more responsive.
Source: The National