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Friday, 11 September 2009 11:24

NICTA crowd sources through OpinionWatch research

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Labor senator Kate Lundy is collaborating with Australia's peak ICT research agency NICTA on a 2.0-style crowd sourcing analysis application called OpinionWatch.

Senator Lundy engaged with the NICTA Canberra Research Laboratory some months ago, and used a working prototype of OpinionWatch as part of her PublicSphere 3 government 2.0 event.

The OpinionWatch software is designed for events that occur over a period and tap the online input of a community – including data from email, Twitter, blogs and the like. The application is designed wash over huge amounts of input and delivery core findings about opinion and sentiment.

NICTA’s Canberra-based senior researcher and eGovernment project leader Dr Jonathan Gray said Senator Lundy's Public Sphere program was one of several collaborations the organisation has undertaken with OpinionWatch.

Dr Gray says NICTA also hopes to establish a working partnership with the Gov 2.0 Taskforce, the newly-created committee set up by Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig to investigate 2.0 tools.

Research into "opinion mining and sentiment analysis" was a fertile ground as both public and private sector organisations sought to make sense out of crowd sourced data.

But any commercial offering that might be generated by the OpinionWatch project was still 18 months to two years away.

"What we will be doing in the coming months is working with additional collaborators who have shown interest and who want to trial it on their data sets and their events," Dr Gray told iTWire.

"It will take probably 18 months or two years of trialling it – though a number of collaborators to tune it, refine it and validate it – and maybe in a couple of years time if those trials show promise then it may be in a state where it has commercial potential."

The OpinionWatch system is a working prototype that demonstrates the application of NICTA’s document processing technologies to a specific eGovernment issue. The agency says the core of the technology is already mature enough to perform text analysis to a level of accuracy to be effective.

The system aimed to be near real-time barometer of opinion that is constantly available online.

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