The NPCU can announce a new £130,784 research grant award to Dr Ben O’Loughlin in collaboration with Linguamatics Ltd. The award, from the Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org/), will fund a 12-month pilot investigation of the use of blogs and twitter as a way of monitoring information infrastructures for early warnings of problems. Linguamatics are a text-mining company based in Cambridge, UK. Lawrence Ampofo, a PhD student in the department, will be a Research Assistant on the project.
Automatic analysis of formal channels (e.g. customer surveys and user feedback forms) using Natural Language Processing (NLP) has been successfully used by large organisations to identify issues reported with products and services. Informal online sources of information, such as blogs and twitter, give the potential for greater coverage of issues in near-real time. We will take NLP technology already proven in life science research and apply it to blogs and twitter for monitoring of digital services. Weak signals gathered from large numbers of users can suggest problems which do not show up as single point failures. We will also see if it is possible to catch cases where a rumour of a problem may exacerbate or even cause the problem itself.