'Sprinklr' helping Telangana track netizens’ COVID-19 talk across social media platforms

Sprinklr was earlier embroiled in controversy with the Kerala government regarding the sharing of Covid-19 data. The government was later forced to beat a hasty retreat out of the partnership.

Published: 06th June 2020 09:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th June 2020 02:01 PM   |  A+A-

Staff of private schools getting thermal scanning in Hyderabad onb Thursday as schools are getting ready to conduct remaining 10th class exams which will be starting from 8th of June in Hyderabad. (Photo | RVK Rao/EPS)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: It has come to the fore that the Telangana government is working with controversial US-based company Sprinklr to track citizens’ public activity regarding COVID-19 on digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, among others, for its COVID-19 dashboard. 

Sprinklr was earlier embroiled in controversy with the Kerala government regarding the sharing of Covid-19 data. The government was later forced to beat a hasty retreat out of the partnership.

Now, the company has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool — ‘Information Intelligence Module’ — for the Telangana government’s data dashboard, using which officials can track from ‘public sources’ what people are talking about on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

They can use this information to create reports that may help fight the novel Coronavirus. A government document accessed by TNIE reads: “enables government to use all digitally available data, for example understanding where the next hotspot may be and gaining insight into public opinion and knowledge”.

The module tracks over 60 themes — hoarding of essentials, people not being able to differentiate between flu and coronavirus — across public platforms in social media and other digital spaces.

‘Data handled by Sprinklr saved on Telangana servers’

The information collected is filtered country, State and city-wise.

It is segmented “into different buckets of actionable insights, such as people talking about their symptoms of cough/fever, complaining of the lack of supplies or PPEs, being turned away from hospitals, and most importantly, reporting on first party symptoms, second party symptoms and misinformation,” the document by the government reads.

This data is finally plotted on graphs to give officials an idea about the public opinion in the State.

For instance, one such graph, that the module created was regarding ‘What are the top medical service attributes being discussed in Telangana?’

It showed ‘testing’ was widely being discussed, followed by ‘drugs’ and ‘health workers’. Another such sample graph that the Sprinklr AI tool created from digital activity was regarding the ‘mention of symptoms across cities’. The graph showed that in Hyderabad, for instance, netizens talked about ‘fever’ 1,800 times on May 4, cough ‘753’ times and so on.

Telangana IT and Industries Principal Secretary Jayesh Ranjan clarified that all the information in the digital space, from ‘cough’ to complains about testing, were being collated from public platforms and that WhatsApp was not among the sources of information.

In Kerala, Sprinklr was tasked with managing and analysing data collected by local self-government bodies pertaining to COVID-19 patients.

The move faced opposition as political parties claimed that it risked people’s health data without their consent. When asked about the issue, Jayesh Ranjan said, “All the data that Sprinklr is handling in Telangana is being stored on the State government’s servers”.


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