The 2019 General Elections in India are going to be fought on a whole different level this year — a whole new dimension, as the trend indicates. Big data, analytics and artificial intelligence are going to play a key role in the fight to power.
A tender released by the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BCIL), a public sector enterprise, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting showcases that the reigning power seems to be taking the public opinion and media seriously. The Government had sent out a proposal looking for a specific “technology platform” which would sense general public emotion by analysing social media posts, blogs and even emails to help boost nationalism and neutralise any “media blitzkrieg by India’s adversaries.”
The proposal explains:
“The platform is expected to provide automated reports, tactical insights as well as comprehensive workflows to initiate engagement across digital channels. The platform may be used to disseminate content and hence should support publishing features. The platform should also support easy management of conversational logs with each individual with capabilities to merge it across channels to help facilitate creating a 360-degree view of the people who are creating buzz across various topics.”
The tender also explains that the technology platform is expected to monitor these media to analyse sentiment and identify “fake news”. They are also expected to promulgate information on behalf of the Government and publicise news and social media posts with a “positive slant for India”.
To counter the aforementioned “media blitzkrieg”, the tender explains that the software should use a variety of statistical techniques from predictive modelling and data mining to analyse the current perception and make predictions about the future or unknown events.
- The software should analyse the patterns found in historical data to identify potential risks and opportunities.
- The analytics tool should capture relationships between explanatory variables and predicted variables from past occurrences and utilize them to predict the unknown outcome.
- The analytics tool should be able to use machine learning to predict, analyse and help the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to make informed decisions.
- The analytics tool should create custom predictions based on the perceptions being created.
- Artificial intelligence may be used for predictive trends and sentiments over social media.
This is not the first time that the NDA-led Indian Government is investing time and money to maintain a positive image for the country as well as the ruling authorities.
In fact, the BJP had invested a huge chunk of money as well as manpower on technology, social media, data analysis and marketing, during the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Arvind Gupta, who had led the IT team for BHP before the last elections, had used technology and data to communicate and to convert people into volunteers and volunteers into voters. He even ran a campaign internally called ‘Organise online for success offline’. Like any company, the BJP IT cell used data to understand trends, pick markets correctly and run the campaign.
On the other hand, the Congress party’s freshly-minted Data Analytics Department is dissecting the numbers for the upcoming elections. These figures include vote share, seats and the apparent shifting of voting patterns since 2009. The INC is going to use the analytics gun to strategise against the BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha battle.