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Using Twitter to Better Understand Public Sentiment

By using the data provided by millions of Twitter users, two researchers discovered surprising insights into public sentiment in shrinking cities.
January 14, 2016, 9am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A post on The Lincoln Institute of land Policy blog introduces a new working paper, by authors Justin Hollander of Tufts University and Henry Renski of the University of Massachusetts, that uses Twitter data "to compare public attitudes in 50 shrinking, mostly postindustrial cities with those in 50 stable, growing cities."

The goal of the paper, as described, is to provide planners with additional tools for evaluating public well-being—Twitter being an easily accessed tool to supplement more traditional tools like Census data and online or other survey processes.

In addition to the study's methodology, the research findings are also of note: "The authors found no significant difference in the attitudes of resident in shrinking cities and growing cities." The lack of difference in attitudes suggests that local, state, and federal agencies need to devote more resources to studying the impacts of population decline on neighborhoods and community well-being.

The study's authors will next research the New York City Department of Design and Construction, "to explore the sentiments of people who live and work near public buildings and plazas."

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Published on Friday, January 8, 2016 in At Lincoln House
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