Digital Dashboard: policy makers' tool to listen to young people
What is it about? Social media listening. In other words, the Digital Dashboard is a monitoring platform that collects public comments and posts in Twitter, blogs and in public groups of Facebook using keywords. This tool, launched on the 22 March of 2017, will be tested in the theme of youth learning mobility, meaning that from today all the posts about volunteering, working, studying abroad or the Erasmus Programme are being gathered in the Digital Dashboard.
The idea is that policy makers listen to voices that are not normally heard. It is not about encouraging young people to address institutions, but about policy makers going directly to what is being said online about an issue. The aim is to use e-participation as an instrument to foster young people’s active participation in democratic life.
This project, supported by the European Commission, is led by the European Citizen Action Service in partnership with the Erasmus Student Network, The Consultation Institute, the Civil College Foundation, the ProInfo Foundation, GONG and Citizens Foundation.
The Director of The Consultation Institute, Remmert Keijzer, claims that this tool brings the opportunity for policy makers to “understand better the views of the youngster, because they can see who is saying what, where, when and if it is in a negative or positive way”. On average per day they collect, after being filtered, 50.000-60.000 inputs written in 35 languages, which are then translated into English by Google Translator.
This huge amount of data about learning mobility is then categorised in three problematic issues that the European Student Network (ESN) has detected: housing, financing and university. Safi Sabuni, president of ESN, explains that there is another category called ‘Others’ collecting “general things relevant to youth mobility that had not been identified”. “This dashboard can help us identify new challenges” affirms Sabuni.
How it works? Robert Bjarnason, CEO of Citizens Foundation, explains that for now the classification of posts as relevant or irrelevant and other categorisation is open to the public. This manual classification will train the algorithm that in a near future will be able to classify the data by itself.
Elisa Lironi states that from the millions of inputs, then filtered into thousands, policy makers will be able to use the platform and maybe “a comment could raise an important point and start a discussion at the EU”.