Five Ways Urban Planners Can Use Text Analysis

What is Text Analysis?

Text Analysis (TA) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are closely related subfields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The tools allow computers to understand and then process human language. This is especially useful because it gives machines the power to complete repetitive tasks like translation, classification, summarization, and analysis. As a result, organizations can use these tools to turn unstructured text into valuable and actionable information.

How Can It Help Urban Planners Use Text Analysis in the Public Sector?

Text Analysis has applications across a wide variety of sectors. Within the public sector, especially in terms of urban planning, this technology can give planners better insights into public sentiment and make the best use of large amounts of public feedback. There are at least five ways planners can use TA to improve processes and outcomes.

  1. Understanding the Civic Experience – In the field of Housing and Community Development (H/CD), text analysis can provide insight to ask the right questions and find solutions through the needs and experiences of the people they serve. 

  2. Harnessing the Voice of the People – Interviews and structured conversations can be done at scale with text analysis. TA can help analyze massive amounts of unstructured text, meaning more input can be processed. Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Fireflies can record and transcribe interviews and conversations, and those transcriptions can be analyzed with text analysis. 

  3. Understanding Community Sentiments – Using text analysis and natural language processing, computers can quickly identify opinions and sentiments within text responses. It can score text fragments on a scale of positive, negative, or neutral. By analyzing a large amount of feedback using this methodology, planners can begin to see patterns of sentiment across the community. 

  4. Gain Insights on Human Behavior – Text analysis helps urban planners see beyond the numbers. Adequately analyzed and processed community feedback can help teams understand more about human behavior, emotions, attitude, and other factors. These were previously difficult to perceive at scale. Now planners can see a broader picture of how the community thinks and feels. 

  5. Team Collaborative Analysis – With many of the most powerful text analysis tools available on SaaS (software as a service) platforms, there are many options for collaboration. Many offer the option of licensing multiple seats. This means that team members can review dashboards and insights together and, with some platforms, download data visualizations to share in team reports.

Caption: A screenshot of the co:census Insights dashboard where customers can use our topic labeling feature for ext analysis.

Text Analysis: Revolutionizing Urban Planning

Text Analysis has the potential to revolutionize urban planning. Stakeholders now have more and better information to work with. This has the potential to create improved outcomes at all phases of planning. If you are interested in learning more about how text analysis can help your planning team, schedule a demo with our team here.