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Coronavirus Pandemic

Combating Coronavirus: Emirati creates Twitter data analysis tool for Covid-19

Staff Report
Filed on June 9, 2020 | Last updated on June 9, 2020 at 04.40 pm

The web tool offers the public insights into conversations, emotions and sentiments about Coronavirus

An Emirati faculty member at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi has created a new web tool for the analysis of Covid-19 Twitter data in the UAE. This tool offers the public insights into conversations, emotions and sentiments concerning Coronavirus.

The tool titled 'Analysis of Cross-linguistic markers of Covid-19 Tweets in the UAE' shows that public sentiments remain positive and trustful of the government's actions towards mitigating the spread of the disease, reflecting the UAE's effective measures against Covid-19.

The web tool developed by Dr Aamna Mohammed Al Shehhi, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, facilitated understanding of social impacts of Covid-19 by creating a Twitter dashboard that offers an insight into social media conversations among members of the public.

Analyzing linguistic markers in social media posts helps in assessing and evaluating changes in the narrative about Covid-19, while understanding the social and emotional reaction to different government actions.

Led by Dr. Aamna Mohammed Al Shehhi, the project to develop the web tool for Twitter analysis in the UAE, was also supported by the Emirates ICT Innovation Center (EBTIC), which is supported by Etisalat, BT, Khalifa University, and the UAE ICT Fund.

Dr. Al Shehhi said this Twitter analysis indicates the ever-increasing role of social media and its impact on policy-making.

"Such understanding enables large-scale opportunities for information-seeking, and practice-sharing to calm people down, and understanding of the differences in the Covid-19 narrative delivered across languages. It also provides a tool to measure the Covid-19 impact on social well-being. Integrating Twitter dashboard analysis therefore can help policymakers during the decision-making process," she said.

The study assessed tweets both in English and Arabic between January 1 and May 1. The topic of tweets ranged from the origin of the disease, spread of the disease, government response, and treatment, in addition to common themes of daily tweets.

The data showed that in early January, at the beginning of the observation period, panic behaviour was noticed in both Arabic and English tweets on Covid-19. However, since January-end, there was a greater spread of positive and hopeful sentiment, which increased over time. This increase in positivity is attributed to different government actions, such as restrictions of movement at national borders and strengthening of the healthcare system.

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