Tag Archives: Doha

Sentiment Analysis of #COP18 Tweets from the UN Climate Conference

The Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has just launched a live sentiment analysis tool of all #COP18 tweets being posted during the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. The event kicked off on Monday, November 26th and will conclude on Friday, December 7th. While the world’s media is actively covering COP18, social media reports are equally insightful. This explains the rationale behind QCRI’s Live #COP18 Twitter Sentiment Analysis Tool.


The first timeline displays the number of positive versus negative tweets posted with the COP18 hashtag. The tweets are automatically tagged as positive or negative using the SentiStrength algorithm, which has the same level of accuracy as that of a person if s/he were to manually tag the tweets. The second timeline simply depicts the average sentiment of #COP18 tweets. Both graphs are auto-matically updated every hour. Note that tweets in all languages are analyzed, not just English-language tweets.

These timelines enable journalists, activists and others to monitor the general mood and reaction to presentations, announcements & conversations happening at the UN Climate Conference. For example, we see a major spike in positive tweets (and to a lesser extent negative tweets) between 10am-11am on November 26th. This is when the Opening Ceremony kicks off, as can be seen from the conference agenda.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 9.30.25 AM

The next highest peak occurs between 6pm-7pm on the 27th, which corresponds to the opening plenary of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). This group is tasked with establishing an agreement that will legally bind all parties to climate targets for the first time. The tweets are primarily positive, which may reflect a positive start to negotiations on opera-tionalizing the Durban Platform. This news article appears to support this hypo-thesis. At 2pm time on November 28th, the number of positive and negative tweets both peak at approximately the same number, 160 tweets. Twitter users may be evenly divided on a topic being discussed.

QCRI Sentiment Analysis

To find out more, simply scroll to the right of the timelines. You’ll see two twitter streams displayed. The first provides a list of selected positive and negative tweets. More specifically, the most frequently retweeted positive and negative tweets for each day are displayed. This feature enables users to understand how some tweets are driving the sentiment analyses displayed on the timelines. The second twitter stream displays the most recent tweets on the UN Conference.

If you’re interested in displaying these live graphs on your website, simply click on the “Embed link” to grab the code. The code is free, we simply ask that you credit and link to QCRI. If you analyze #COP18 tweets using these timelines, please let us know so we can benefit from your insights during this pivotal conference. The sentiment analysis dashboard was put together by QCRI’s Sofiane AbbarWalid Magdy and myself. We welcome your feedback on how to make this dashboard more useful for future conferences and events. Please note that this site was put together “overnight”; i.e., it was rushed. As such it is only an initial prototype.

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī: An Update from the Qatar Computing Research Institute

I first heard of al-Khwārizmī in my ninth-grade computer science class at the International School of Vienna (AIS) back in 1993. Dr. Herman Prossinger who taught the course is exactly the kind of person one describes when answering the question: which teacher had the most impact on you while growing up? I wonder how many other 9th graders in the world had the good fortune of being taught computer science by a full-fledged professor with a PhD dissertation entitled “Isothermal Gas spheres in General Relativity Theory” (1976) and numerous peer-reviewed publications in top-tier scientific journals including Nature?

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī was a brilliant mathematician & astronomer who spent his time as a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad (possibly the best name of any co-working space in history). “Al-Khwarithmi” was initially transliterated into Latin as Algoritmi. The manuscript above, for example, begins with “DIXIT algorizmi,” meaning “Says al-Khwārizmī.” And thus was born the world AlgorithmBut al-Khwārizmī’s fundamental contributions were not limited to the fields of mathematics and astronomy, he is also well praised for his important work on geography and cartography. Published in 833, his Kitāb ṣūrat al-Arḍ (Arabic: كتاب صورة الأرض) or “Book on the Appearance of the Earth” was a revised and corrected version of Ptolemy’s Geography. al-Khwārizmī’s book comprised an impressive list of 2,402 coordinates of cities and other geo-graphical features. The only surviving copy of the book can be found at Strasbourg University. I’m surprised the item has not yet been purchased by Qatar and relocated to Doha.

View of the bay from QCRI in Doha, Qatar.

This brings me to the Qatar (Foundation) Computing Research Institute (QCRI), which was almost called the al-Khwārizmī Computing Research Institute. I joined QCRI exactly two weeks ago as Director of Social Innovation. My first impression? QCRI is Doha’s “House of Whizzkids”. The team is young, dynamic, international and super smart. I’m already working on several exploratory research and development (R&D) projects that could potentially lead to initial prototypes by the end of the year. These have to do with the application of social computing and big data analysis for humanitarian response. So I’ve been in touch with several colleagues at the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to bounce these early ideas off and am thrilled that all responses thus far have been very positive.

My QCRI colleagues and I are also looking into collaborative platforms for “smart microtasking” which may be useful for the Digital Humanitarian Network. In addition, we’re just starting to explore potential solutions for quantifying veracity in social media, a rather non-trivial problem as Dr. Prossinger would often say with a sly smile in relation to NP-hard problems. In terms of partner-ship building, I will be in New York, DC and Boston next month for official meetings with the UN, World Bank and MIT to explore possible collaborations on specific projects. The team in Doha is particularly strong on big data analytics, social computing, data cleaning, machine learning and translation. In fact, most of the whizzkids here come from very impressive track records with Microsoft, Yahoo, Ivy Leagues, etc. So I’m excited by the potential.

View of Tornado Tower (purple lights) where QCRI is located.

The reason I’m not going into specifics vis-a-vis these early R&D efforts is not because I want to be secretive or elusive. Not at all. We’re still refining the ideas ourselves and simply want to manage expectations. There is a very strong and genuine interest within QCRI to contribute meaningfully to the humanitarian technology space. But we’re really just getting started, still hiring left, center and right, and we’ll be in R&D mode for a while. Plus, we don’t want to rush just for the sake of launching a new product. All too often, humanitarian technologies are developed without the benefit (and luxury) of advanced R&D. But if QCRI is going to help shape next-generation humanitarian technology solutions, we should do this in a way that is deliberate, cutting-edge and strategic. That is our comparative advantage.

In sum, the outcome of our R&D efforts may not always lead to a full-fledged prototype, but all the research and findings we carry out will definitely be shared publicly so we can move the field forward. We’re also committed to developing free and open source software as part of our prototyping efforts. Finally, we have no interest in re-inventing the wheel and far prefer working in partnerships than in isolation. So there we go, time to R&D  like al-Khwārizmī.

ICT for Development Highlights

Credit: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1403/623843568_7fa3c0cbe9.jpg?v=0

For a moment there, during the 8-hour drive from Kassala back to Khartoum, I thought Doha was going to be a miss. My passport was still being processed by the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and my flight to Doha was leaving in a matter of hours. I began resigning myself to the likelihood that I would miss ICT4D 2009. But thanks to the incredible team at IOM, not only did I get my passport back, but I got a one-year, mulitple re-entry visa as well.

I had almost convinced myself that missing ICT4D would ok. How wrong I would have been. When the quality of poster presentations and demo’s at a conference rival the panels and presentation, you know that you’re in for a treat. As the title of this posts suggest, I’m just going to point out a few highlights here and there.


  • Onno Purbo gave a great presentation on wokbolic, a  cost saving wi-fi receiver  antenna made in Indonesia using a wok. The wokbolic has as 4km range, costs $5-$10/month. Great hack.


  • Kentaro Toyama with Microsoft Research India (MSR India) made the point that all development is paternalistic and that we should stop fretting about this since development will by definition be paternalistic. I’m not convinced. Partnership is possible without paternalism.
  • Ken Banks noted the work of QuestionBox, which I found very interesting. I’d be interested to know how they remain sustainable, a point made by another colleague of mine at DigiActive.
  • Other interesting comments by various panelists included (and I paraphrase): “Contact books and status are more important than having an email address”; “Many people still think of mobile phones as devices one holds to the ear… How do we show that phones can also be used to view and edit content?”

Demo’s & Posters

I wish I could write more about the demo’s and posters below but these short notes and few pictures will have to do for now.


  • Analyzing Statistical Relationships between Global Indicators through Visualization:


  • Numeric Paper Forms for NGOs:


  • Uses of Mobile Phones in Post-Conflict Liberia:


  • Improving Data Quality with Dynamic Forms


  • Open Source Data Collection Tools:


Patrick Philippe Meier