The Social Media Lab at the Ted Rogers School of Management recently launched an online tool that helps monitor social media buzz about Canadian politics and the upcoming federal election.

Called PoliDashboard, the tool monitors Twitter activity containing the hashtags #cdnpoli and #elxn42.

A screenshot from the app (Courtesy Twitter/@PhMai).

A screenshot from the app (Courtesy Twitter/@PhMai).


PoliDashboard was launched online on Sept. 15 and was revealed to the public last Tuesday, when the Social Media Lab officially opened to the public in its new home at 10 Dundas St. E.

Philip Mai, research and communications manager of the Social Media Lab and PoliDashboard research supervisor, said the interactive tool captures real-time data that can be analyzed and visualized.

“It gives you a picture of what the electorate is interested in at this moment (in real time),” Mai said.

The tool collects data on federal election candidates and topics associated with them, such as the niqab debate and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to name a few. The data can then be presented visually to help analysts, politicians and campaign managers determine what the electorate is passionate about. It can also collect and analyze data based on politicians, cities and provinces.

“In the old days, you have to call them (electorate) up and do a survey. Now you don’t have to,” Mai said.

You can already see the digital footprint. We see how they feel about something — we see the actual work they talk about, and we analyze that.

The tool also captures data on the political leanings of Twitter users, but unlike polls, it does not say who the leading candidates are.

Even though PoliDashboard can show which leader is most talked about on Twitter, it doesn’t indicate whether Twitter users are talking about them in a positive or negative way, said Shawn Menzies, research assistant at the Ryerson Social Media Lab.

Mai said the online analytical tool is not making any claims that it can predict elections.

“It simply gives you a window into what people are feeling and thinking right now. It is not definitive, but it gives you an idea and a general direction,” Mai added.


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