Guest post from Mark Heid, Program Director, IBM Social Analytics
Follow Mark on Twitter: @mheid
As the London Olympics get into full-swing we are analyzing the action around the games from a social perspective and measuring shifts in sentiment.
Hopefully you saw our first Olympics post from Basir Syed on the London Eye and sentiment. Throughout the Games, we will run a series of blogs highlighting some of the trends that might otherwise be smothered by “paid” media broadcasters.
We've been looking at possibly the most negative social media sentiment trend (besides #nbcfail) as the games got underway this past weekend: the transportation plans for the Games across the London metro area.
London created established Games Lanes, aka “Zil” lanes – reserved for athletes, Olympics officials and VIPs – so nick-named in reference to communist-era through-ways reserved for communist apparatchiks and their Zil limousines.
Driving in them during the London Games can incur a fine of $201 and, as you might imagine, the negative sentiment related to transportation for the Games was substantial last Thursday, the evening before the Opening Ceremonies. At that time negative taxi or cab sentiment outweighed positive by more than 2x.
Here are a few “quotable” social comments:
“The capital's ‘cabbies’ are furious at being banned from driving in almost all of the special lanes alongside the Olympic traffic, with most fearing we will lose money because London will be in a state of gridlock during the Games.”
There have been two cab demonstrations in recent weeks, as observed by an eye-witness:
“On Tuesday last week, thousands of taxis worried about their livelihood brought the streets around parliament to a standstill on, honking their horns and moving off at a snail's pace.“
Ironically, even with the “Zil” lanes” in place one blog related that “it was still quicker... to get to the Olympic Park using public transport.”
Now, as we review the status through July 30 it seems the negative comments are increasing to 6x positive sentiment.
London seems to be in a jam. While the negative sentiment keeps rising and resentment keeps festering, removing the lanes would jeopardize critical transportation (some athletes were nearly late for their events in Beijing due to traffic).
Evidence of the frustration among cabbies could be seen in their decision to demonstrate yet again – this time right on top of the opening ceremonies, as a blogger on JitneyHack.com reported:
“Traffic came to a virtual standstill at Hyde Park corner as cabbies, furious at being barred from the Olympic-only traffic lanes on London's roads, formed a slow-moving convoy around the junction.”
Some cabbies have said they have “experienced a 50 percent drop in income since the lanes went into force” on Wednesday, July 25.
We'll keep an eye on the transportation issues and lots of other social media perspectives as the London Games progress.
What are some other areas of the London Olympics where you’d like to see sentiment measured?
Until the next blog.....go USA!
For more information:
· Learn more about the IBM Social Sentiment Index, which has also been used to measure travel and shopping plans, the Academy Awards, Super Bowl and 2011 World Series. The index uses advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies that can be applied to analyze big data (in this case, large volumes of social media data) in order to assess public opinions.