To capture a wider range of community sentiment on issues like public safety and public health, the Israeli data-analysis firm Zencity announced on Thursday it’s acquired the digital polling firm Elucd.
Eyal Feder-Levy, the co-founder and CEO of ZenCity, told StateScoop his company will fold the community polling and data analysis capabilities of the New York-based Elucd into its civic engagement strategy to gather more community sentiment for its local government customers.
“There are pockets that cannot be covered by asking somebody a question, and there are pockets that cannot be covered by organic discourse, and the mix of the two can really give you a 360-degree view of the community,” Feder-Levy said.
Currently, Zencity uses machine learning to trawl social media, 311 feeds and news media to measure how a population feels about breaking news or emerging crises. That sentiment is processed and sent back to local government agencies, which can adjust their behavior or messaging accordingly.
Last year, communities like Long Beach, California, used Zencity’s software to ensure their census campaigns were meeting populations that have historically ignored the census, whether out of fear or a lack of information.
Feder-Levy said Zencity is already proficient at understanding organic online discourse, but Elucd — which relies on digital advertising on social media and news sites to get answers to specific questions and analyzes data from those responses — will fill in some gaps.
“We’re able to cover a very wide part of the community and a wide range of topics,” he said, most recently including what is preventing people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Elucd, which will merge its customer base into Zencity’s, also conducts monthly tracking of public opinion on police conduct and resident safety.
Terms of the merger were not disclosed; both companies are privately held.
“We share a lot of the same vision in terms of how we look at community sentiment as a tool for local government and law enforcement,” Feder-Levy said of Zencity and Elucd. “There’s a very strong approach that we share which is a bit different from the rest of the companies out there, which is that we believe listening to the communities at large is really important and doing that in a way that is quick, reliable, easy to handle from the agency’s perspective is key.”