Obama harnesses Big Data dashboards in presidential campaign

The Obama campaign recently launched an online dashboarding platform to help mobilize his supporters. Once users sign up, the dashboard mines all the information given and user actions (signing petitions, writing messages) to provide supporters with information and materials specific to them, to help them organize their activity in support of the Obama campaign. The dashboard tracks calls, petitioning, volunteering activity so users can contribute towards regional and national targets. The platform connects users with other supporters both regionally and nationally and displays local events (phonebanking, registering voters, canvassing).

This is a real example of Big Data in action. Analyzing the personal inputs of users can help the Obama campaign view both the bigger picture and specific information about supporters and the campaign at a local level. It can provide lots of information to better target regions or cities where you can leverage more donation to finance the campaign. In the age of Big Data, New Scientist commented that this election campaign is "powered by geeks". Both Obama and Romney hire large teams of analysts to allow them to identify and "microtarget" specific groups and segments. It was recently reported that Mitt Romney managed to leverage $350,000 in donation to finance his campaign in San Francisco (not a traditional Republican stronghold). The Romney campaign analysts mined huge amounts of data to find identify people likely to donate.

With the huge amounts of data collected by public services and government, the dashboard platform is another good example of how Big Data can be harnessed to drive results. We'll find out in November whether this latest initiative can help Obama get re-elected but it is great to see some of the latest online technologies being used at the very top of politics.