The proliferation of publicly available data sources provides public affairs professionals with new opportunities to frame stories with compelling data storytelling that lends added credibility and persuasiveness to their deliverables. And while data sources like public disclosures and government reports are more abundant than ever, they present a challenge for communicators and researchers without a technical background.
The Bullpen Technology Group (BTG) fills this gap with the marriage of technologists and researchers. We help our clients in the public affairs sector transform raw data sets into persuasive insights.
Taming big data for communications and research can be broken down into two phases:
- Aggregate the data
- Build custom analytics tools for the data
Making Data Usable
Public data sources come in many forms and often our first step is to convert them into well-structured, machine readable formats. We’re even able to create new data sources specific to a project’s needs.
One of our products, Pundit Analytics, collects marketing emails and website changes from political campaigns to create a proprietary database for monitoring and searching. In cases where data is well-structured but not machine readable, such as PDFs – which often represent ‘malicious compliance’ – we apply computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to reconstruct them as databases we can use for search and further analysis.
In one recent project, we helped a client re-organize more than 450,000 rows from across five databases to create the combined dataset they needed. This data came from public disclosures over the last decade, but existing search functions were too bulky and complex. When BTG was done, our client had the data they needed for the marketing campaign they envisioned.
Building Data Analysis Tools
After the data has been translated into a usable format, we then deploy custom-built tools to aid communicators and researchers in exploring and analyzing it. This runs the gamut of basic, yet essential, search and filtering tools to advanced pattern matching algorithms and data visualizations.
Our advanced Twitter search tool saves researchers dozens of hours each week by adding unique keyword and bulk search functionality on top of the Twitter API. In the project involving a reconstructed data set of 450,000 we built a search functionality that made an otherwise unusable jumble into a source of valuable intelligence for our client.
Transparency is essential to our work in public affairs, but only when paired with relevant technical expertise can data’s true value be unlocked.