Federal Reserve looking to monitor social media

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has invited companies specializing in sentiment analysis the chance to bid on a contract, which will allow the regional bank to monitor what people are saying about the Fed online. The solutions designed by hopeful vendors will need to track reactions and opinions expressed by the public in real time.

The RFP (Request for Proposal), was opened officially on September 16. Vendors wishing to take part in the bidding process will need to submit their solutions by 3:00 p.m. EST on September 28. Based on the RFP, the FRBNY is looking for a vendor who is in it for the long haul, and who can provide the most flexible monitoring system available for a reasonable amount of money.

The FRBNY works within the U.S. Federal Reserve system. They are one of 12 regional Reserve Banks across the nation, overseeing the second district, which includes the state of New York, 12 counties New Jersey, Fairfield County in Connecticut, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In terms of assets and overall volume, FRBNY is the largest of all the Reserve Banks.

It should be noted that some have disputed the validity of the RFP itself, and others have passed it off as just another way for an organization to monitor things on a PR level. Given that the data being tracked is public information, some have commented that the technology being requested is harmless. We’ll let you be the judge of that.

Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution

“There is need for the Communications Group to be timely and proactively aware of the reactions and opinions expressed by the general public as it relates to the Federal Reserve and its actions on a variety of subjects,” the RFP explains.

The RFP was created in an effort to support FRBNY’s Social Media Listening Platforms initiative. These types of listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources, the RFP’s outline explains.

“They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.”

Such technology can be used to track marketing (Press Releases), as well as allow an organization the ability to deal with crises, such as breaking news or a scandal. It can be used to locate people, often called influencers in the PR world, such as bloggers or journalists. This feature alarms some people, because while it comes off with a positive spin, those expressing negative influencing opinions can be quickly spotted too.

“The solution must support content coming from different countries and geographical regions. It should also support multiple languages. The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums, and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc,” notes the RFP.

“The solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations. It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative, or neutral) around key conversational topics. It must be able to provide summaries or high level overviews of a specific set of topics… The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.”

In addition, the vendor must design the product so that it works within the existing FRBNY infrastructure, including Google Search Appliances, Lotus Notes, and Web Trends. Moreover, one of the questions offered to bidders focuses on engagement.

“Does the Proposed Solution offer the ability to engage directly with content owners? Please provide additional details on how the Proposed Solution accomplishes this in the comments section.”

“Does the Proposed Solution offer engagement functionality, a built in tool for the fed analysts reading the reports to respond to blog posts, twitter comments, news article comments?”

The request for information on engagement is interesting. It can also be a bit frightening if one considers that other parts of the U.S. government have already started using automated and direct engagement software, and such use is in conjunction with other social media monitoring tools. The Tech Herald has touched on this topic before. You can read that coverage here.

While the RFP was written by the FRBNY, there is no doubt that the data collected would be shared with the other regional centers.

“All we can say is we welcome our new Chairsatan Voldemort overlord. For it is truly he who must not be named henceforth,” commented Tyler Durden on Zero Hedge.

Zero Hedge is the site said to have first published the RFP, in this case Chairsatan refers to Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Ben Bernanke.

We’ve reached out to the FRBNY for comment. We’ll update this story with more information as we get it. In the meantime, a copy of the RFP is available via the Public Intelligence website. [Source]


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