A Griffith research project is changing the way the tourism industry delivers the visitor experience through real time social media data analysis.

Associate Professor Bela Stantic, acting Head of the School of Information and Communication Technology and Director of the Big Data and Smart Analytics lab in Griffith’s Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems, is confident his new big data concept can deliver more accurate information than traditional analysis currently dominating the industry.

His concept, which he calls the Human Sensor, uses real time integration of publicly available data through social media, discussion groups, blogs and review websites to make decisions.

“I wanted to show that it is possible to, in real time, identify what is a target of a discussion and what is the attitude towards a particular product or service,” Associate Professor Stantic said.

“Traditionally it is very hard to identify what people are talking about and what are the facts or attributes around the discussion because microblogs are usually very short and have many spelling errors and slang language.”

An example of the Human Senor’s use can be see through a project Associate Professor Stantic began in January this year which uses it for monitoring environmental changes in the Great Barrier Reef and the quality of marine waters.

The National Environmental Science Program has dedicated $247,145 in funding over two years to improving the monitoring of environmental and aesthetic conditions in real time from visitors to the Great Barrier Reef.

“The data mining will integrate human sensing data such as social media applications with existing monitoring data, open data such as meteorological data, tourism statistics and be made available to stakeholders,” he said.

“We believe that environmental changes to the Great Barrier Reef can be spotted by tourists who share to social media. From photos we can also recognise types of fish, fish numbers. We believe by integrating all data and applying deep learning we will be able to identify and predict potential issues which may arise on the Reef.

“This will not only save money, but earn the tourism industry money too and could improve customer satisfaction immensely.”

With 400 million tweets posted each day on Twitter itself and many other sources of publicly available data which contain hidden information, Associate Professor Stantic said companies need to start allocating resources to big data analysis or risk making inaccurate decisions.

“I think many companies are starting to realise the impact social media and big data monitoring can have but are not yet allocating sufficient resources to it,” he said.

“One of the reasons could be as there is also a shortage of people with those skills available to employ.”

“Griffith is combating this shortage through its new Bachelor of Computer Science degree which it introduced this year with a high interest from student.

“We will be equipping graduates with majors in data sciences and artificial intelligences so they will be well placed to ride the wave of these future job prospects.”

Associate Professor Stantic will give a keynote lecture on the big data explosion which has hit the world at the Griffith Institute of Tourism networking event at the Queensland College of Art, South Bank on April 15 at 5.30pm with the title “Big Data — Big Deal”.