After months of debates, social media chatter, outrage and craziness, the presidential primary season finally opens today with the Iowa caucuses. In response to that milestone, OpenText announced it was releasing a new tool to help voters track news around the elections and parse it by candidate and issues.
The tool is called Election Tracker 16 and it’s designed to showcase some of the data gathering and analysis tools in the upcoming release of OpenText’s software suite. Before you say it, yes, there is some irony in a Canadian company exposing this data for a US election, but CEO Mark Barrenechea says it was about finding a way to show off their suite’s features.
“Our first step when we go live [today] is just being able to get the top candidates who are running and getting a complete, rich, easy-to-use experience. You can track candidates by topic, by media outlet break down, compare candidates and their volume of information and the top things people are talking about — and that’s really the new table stakes in the age of digitization,” Barrenechea says.
The idea is to crawl the coverage across a variety of media outlets, then take all of that data and semantically analyze it before finally storing and displaying it and taking advantage of the rich supply of metadata around that content.
The tool takes advantage of three OpenText products. First of all, OpenText InfoFusion crawls the defined data sources looking for information by a set of keywords defined for the system. In this case, it would be the candidate’s names and issues related to election coverage such as the crime, campaign finance and so forth.
After crawling the data, OpenText Actuate iHub semantically analyzes the content for relevant data and finally all of that gets stored and presented in OpenText Content Server.
“In February, we’re coming out with great information [to show off the power of] semantic plus analytics. When we narrow it down to two or three candidates, we’ll see how humans have to interpret the data,” he said.
Moving forward beyond the convention, the tool will go a bit further, predicting based on this data, who they think will win the election in November. Barrenechea says he’s not concerned about being right or wrong, so much as showing off the capabilities of the mix of tools in a fun way.
He says it’s about filtering through many sources of information and helping humans to get an answer. It still takes humans to interpret that and figure out how to make the best use of it, he says.
“I think it’s dangerous for people to think technology, that silicon can give you a zero or one answer. We can help the end users of technology greatly with a more information. Who can read 10,000 articles and come up with three salient points on gun control?”
Ultimately, Barrenechea admits it’s kind of a content marketing idea, designed to show off the underlying technology, but he’s fine with that. He’s hoping Election Tracker will show that if you can sift through this kind of information in this fashion, you can apply those same techniques in a business context.