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How can web and social media monitoring help change public sentiment? The Nuclear Secuity Summit 2014

Online monitoring of posts and tweets during the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit highlight public opinion – and informed strategies to change it. Real time analysis of social media and news items revealed public attitudes to the Nuclear Security Summit in 2014. By tackling these concerns, public communication turned scepticism into a positive response.


In March 2014 The Hague hosted the Nuclear Security Summit, the country’s largest ever conference. Welcoming national leaders, including President Obama, the event involved a massive public and behind-the-scenes security and logistics operation.

Part of the event’s security involved a small team of analysts working in shifts around the clock to monitor web and social media traffic related to the event.

One of these analysts was Patrick Rancuret, an advisor on social media for the city council. He told Opening Up that the team combined the expertise of several organisations including the summit organisers, the police and the city council. They worked together to analyse public sentiment and inform the communication strategies of all the organisations involved.

Using monitoring tools such as Radian6, Coosto, Zoom Media and online news sources such as LexisNexis and ANP, the team studied nearly 200 000 tweets. The analysis focused on the public’s need for information (e.g. accessibility, security measures, traffic diversions), posts on intended behaviours (e.g. planned protests) and comments that revealed worries and citizen attitudes.

During the event, the team was analysing up to 4000 messages per hour. They delivered a total of 65 reports.

Mr Rancuret reveals that public sentiment shifted over the course of the summit. Before the event, people were talking about the costs of the summit, security threats and the potential for traffic chaos – they were generally either neutral or critical. But as the summit developed – and the public communications teams adjusted their messages in response to negative public opinion – attitudes began to change. According to Mr Rancuret, by the end people were talking about the summit’s results and had a sense of pride.

“Monitoring revealed public sentiment during the summit – and steered communication strategies that helped to change it.”

Story in numbers

  • 181 117 tweets
  • 28 460 189 impressions
  • 800 news items on TV and radio
  • 4195 messages per hour

Summary of benefits

  • Know what information to provide
  • Anticipate public behaviours (protests, security threats, traffic flows)
  • Evaluate public sentiment
  • Adjust public communications

See the presentation!


Patrick Rancuret, Municipality of Den Haag, Netherlands

@patrickrancuret |

Patrick Rancuret advises on online media for the municipality of The Hague in the Netherlands.

Online media monitoring: learning from events in Holland

Online media monitoring for seven large events during 2013 reveals best practice. Online media monitoring helps event organisers, municipalities and the police to ensure events run smoothly and safely with high customer satisfaction. Municipalities get a boost to their reputation too!


The Opening Up project has translated and published a report written jointly by the municipality of Oosterhout, the Tilburg Safety Taskforce and the online media monitoring agency HowAboutYou.

The report highlights the experience of these partners and their involvement monitoring seven different, large-scale public and commercial events during 2013, ranging from Pink Monday at the Tilburg Funfair (with crowd over 300,000) to the Decibel summer ‘house party’ at Hilvarenbeek which attracts around 50,000 hardcore house music fans.

The report describes how event stakeholders (typically the organisers, the municipality and the police) collaborated to develop search strategies and keywords to monitor social media messages about the event. In most cases monitoring focused on safety issues – this is the primary concern for all municipalities. But the authors insist that monitoring is also effective for improving event organisation and issues related to ‘content’ (e.g. performances, activities etc).

Some of the events also provided ‘webcare’ via social media channels. Monitoring picked up on people’s questions and queries about the event; relevant actors were able to answer questions via direct and public social media posts.

The report recommends that all parties involved in event collaborate to develop a central monitoring service which can supply useful information to all stakeholders. The collaboration must agree clear protocols for reporting, communication and incident response and establish direct communication between the monitoring team and relevant stakeholders.

Based on this experience, the report offers a five-point action plan that organisations can adopt to introduce online media monitoring into their own events. The action plan covers:

  • Organisation and preparation

  • Assessing risks

  • Setting up the team and searches

  • Real-time analysis and reporting

  • Learning lessons

Top tools for social media monitoring

“Monitoring adds value for event organisers, the municipality and the police.”

Summary of benefits

  • Get extra information and an on-the-ground perspective of an event in real time

  • Use monitoring for faster incident response, marketing, better customer care and crisis communication

  • Pick up on early warning signs and take action to avoid serious incidents

  • Add value to the content, organisation and safety of events

Next steps

  • Follow the 5-point action plan


Renske Stumpel

Henk van der leest

Twitter: a good channel for citizen feedback?

Study shows that UK local authorities will struggle to analyse tweets for useful service feedback. People love to comment on council services via Twitter. But monitoring tweets for meaningful citizen feedback is difficult without promoting official hashtags.


We tweet about everything – what we wear, where we go, even what we eat. Twitter is a goldmine of information: businesses increasingly use this data to gather feedback on products and provide rapid response customer service. Could local authorities adopt a similar approach?

Software company Porism investigated whether UK councils could analyse tweets to pick up on citizen comments and hence improve the delivery of local public services.

In a trial lasting just one week Porism used computer software to categorise tweets by analysing tweet geo-tags and official council hashtags, and searching for keywords related to a sample of public services.

Tweet identification

Although Porism could pick out tweets commenting on public services, it was difficult to pinpoint them to a specific council or local area. Only 1.5 per cent of tweets contained enough data to accurately identify the geographic area referred to in the tweet.

Porism was able to boost the number of tweets with location data by using the location text associated with the Twitter user’s account. However, Porism acknowledges this approach is unreliable: the location mentioned in the profile may not correspond with the location referred to in an individual tweet.

The biggest problem is language – English is used in tweets by people around the globe so only a fraction of tweets in English actually relate to the UK. The use of other languages provide a much better indication of geography (tweets in Dutch, for example, are most likely to refer to somewhere in the Netherlands).


Porism suggests that specific hashtags could help UK councils make Twitter a more reliable channel for citizen feedback. However, this relies on local authorities promoting specific hashtags – and citizens using them appropriately.

Indeed, hashtags will rarely pinpoint comments with enough accuracy for the council to be able to act. For example, a tweet mentioning overflowing bins with a city-wide hashtag is of little use; the local authority needs to know the street where these bins are so it can send a clean-up team. Without enough relevant data attached to tweets, councils need to use customer service teams to engage with their citizens and gather more information.

Barriers to service improvements

Based on this study, Porism identifies four key barriers to the use of social media to improve the services of UK local government:

  • Few tweets are geo-tagged – the relevant area is rarely identified

  • English is tweeted globally – it is difficult to identify tweets relevant to specific administrative areas in the UK

  • Councils rarely commit to promoting hashtags – citizens remain unaware

  • Commonly tweeted words are ambiguous – they cannot be automatically linked to a government service

Despite these difficulties, the city of Groningen in the Netherlands is testing social media analysis for service improvement. Porism continues to investigate how to identify tweets that citizens want to bring to the attention of local councillors and elected representatives.

“Hashtags could help UK councils make Twitter a more reliable channel for citizen feedback”

Next steps

  • Decide how Twitter fits into wider municipal strategy

  • Promote geographic or service-specific hashtags

  • Think about apps for better message geo-location

Further reading

  • Report: “Social Media Monitoring Tools”

  • Report: “Turning tables: monitoring the NSA”

  • Report: “Analysing the buzz around events”


Mike Thacker, Technical Director, Porism,UK. Email:

Mike Thacker is the owner of Porism which started in January 1989. Mike started Porism to give himself and his employees the freedom to develop creative solutions for clients, working with the most appropriate tools. Since then, the company has gone through many phases but has always stuck to that core goal. Porism specialises in creating systems for use by local government. However, work continues in new areas, such as the semantic web and democracy apps supporting the work of elected representatives.