IPS Digital Frontiers Seminar: Man and Machine (2)- Online and Offline Sensing of Public Sentiments on National Day Rally 2016


As more people take to the cyberspace to express their opinions, governments and organisations face the challenge of making sense of a cluttered online space. A major question confronting them is what the online opinion on an issue is, if and how it differs from that of the general population. This seminar presents findings from an on-going study between the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and the Living Analytics Research Centre (LARC) at the Singapore Management University.

Started in 2014, the project aims to develop an online media analytics system that analyses online public opinion, and using that, to predict how the wider public feels towards important issues and events. The collaboration involves human analysis of online data by IPS and computer analysis of the same data by LARC. We used the recent National Day Rally 2016 (NDR 2016) as a case study.

The first part of the seminar presents findings from the sensing of online public sentiments by machine on NDR 2016 based on human classification or coding by IPS: What did Singaporeans discuss on mainstream media sites (e.g., The Straits Times, Today and Channel NewsAsia) and social media platforms (blogs, discussion forums, Facebook and Twitter)? Which NDR 2016 topics gained the most traction among online users? What were their sentiments on these topics? Which social media platforms were most popular, and were the discussions and sentiments expressed on one platform different from those on another?

The second part of the seminar presents findings from a survey of 2,000 Singaporeans who watched, read or discussed NDR 2016: What media did they use for information-seeking and discussion? What were their interests and sentiments on the NDR2016 topics? What did they do on social media in relation to NDR 2016? We also identify trends in public sentiments towards different policies by demographics. Lastly, we compare the findings from LARC’s analysis with that of the survey, and make recommendations to refine future online sensing.

This seminar follows an earlier one which examined the rationality of the political online space. It brings together policymakers, researchers, industry experts, and media practitioners who are interested in the latest trends in mainstream and social media usage, and how to efficiently collect and accurately analyse content across different media platforms to better understand public sentiments.

About the IPS Digital Frontiers Seminar:

This series of seminars is based on the idea that new technologies have reached a point that has suddenly opened the doors for novel ways of doing things, be it in the social, political, economic and even research arenas. The seminars in the series are:



If you have any enquiries, please contact Ms Choo Kia Ming at tel: 6516-8391 or via email:

Thursday, 23 February 2017
2.45 pm – 5.00 pm