AI-based smart city software gauges public opinion for Tel Aviv officials

Using artificial intelligence software to analyse residents’ posts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Tel Aviv municipal officials gain understanding of public opinion to help shape public policy.

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When the Tel Aviv municipality first went public with the decision to make Covid-19 vaccines available to the tens of thousands of undocumented African migrants, city communications officials were concerned about potential blowback. 

Would the city residents opposed to the migrants; presence in Israel stir up demonstrations opposing giving the shots to the migrants?

It didn't take long for officials to find out. Using ZenCity, smart city software that gives municipal officials a window onto local sentiment by analysing social media chatter, Tel Aviv officials realized that there was actually wide support for giving shots to the migrants.    

The social media conversations about the decision were positive, said Eytan Schwartz, Tel Aviv's chief municipal spokesperson. Residents understood the importance of vaccinating the city's entire population —even if they opposed Israel becoming a permanent home for migrants in general. 

"People who don't support the migrants supported this move," Schwartz said. "It was obvious that giving people vaccinations was not only good for individuals, but good for the health at large." 

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