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New Software Designed to Improve Politics
12 January 2012
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Experts in political science and in simulation and computing technologies are working on the development of a new sofware that will allow politicians to analyse opinions expressed in social networks. The project, entitled FUPOL includes the participation of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and is being carried out by an international consortium financed by the European Commission.
Until 2015, a team of experts in political science and simulation and computing technologies, belonging to a consortium of 17 partners from Europe and China, will be developing advanced artificial intelligence tools to collect, analyse and interpret automatically the opinions expressed by users through the internet with the aim of assessing politicians in the design and implementation of social policies.
The research project FUPOL is financed by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union with 9.1 million Euros. At first, the project will focus on assessing urban policies and decision-making processes of local authorities. The technologies and innovations developed however will be generic and available for all political levels and areas.
The system will be able automatically to collect, analyse and interpret the opinions expressed by internet users thanks to tools which classify the large amount of information generated by social networks. The aim is to make it easier for governing bodies to comprehend the needs of its citizens and improve social policies. Using simulation models, the programme eventually will be capable of predicting benefits and shortcomings of policies during the design phase.
UAB researchers participating in the project, led by Miguel Mújica Mota and Miguel Ángel Piera from the Department of Telecommunications and Systems Engineering, will be in charge of developing social behaviour simulation models. At international level, the project is coordinated by Peter Sonntagbauer, researcher at Cellent AG (AT), Austrian subsidiary of a multinational corporation with headquarters in Germany.
According to UAB researcher Miguel Mújica, "FUPOL aims to provide a completely new approach to traditional politics. The processing of information made available by social networks will change the way in which politicians communicate with the people and their decision-making processes. The project will contribute to the sustainable development of cities and will lower the barrier between citizens and politicians."
The project already has generated a large amount of interest, even outside the European Union. One of the project partners is the city of Yantai, in the Shandong Province of the People's Republic of China, while some of the members of "Major Cities of Europe" (MCE) have been chosen as pilot cities. The working plan includes five field research projects in China, Croatia, Cyprus, Italy and United Kingdom, which will focus on the political areas of urban planning, land use and sustainable development, migration and urban segregation.