SocialProbing brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers who will combine their knowledge and skills to develop techniques, technologies and tools that allow probing fundamental aspects of society in a scalable and affordable way.
Probing a certain population group provides information to be able to evaluate and improve their situation. The rapid digital deployment and the success of social networks have notably increased the possibility of probing society through these new channels. But to the same extent, problems have arisen in conducting digital surveys, due to the sense of lack of privacy on the part of the participants and the lack of incentives to participate. All this is aggravated if the information to be collected is of a sensitive nature (social, gender, economic, health, …). Furthermore, by leaving out of the survey a segment of the population that does not use digital platforms, it is possible that there is bias in the conclusions obtained.
SocialProbing proposes a new methodology to alleviate these issues, and at the same time to advance in the acquisition of data through digital channels. This methodology is based on the massive and continuous use of surveys by digital means in which information is collected indirectly. The use of this type of survey has two great advantages over direct surveys. On the one hand, with the same number of participants, a much larger fraction of the population is reached, with the consequent increase in scalability and reduction in costs. On the other hand, it reaches segments of the population that do not use digital platforms.
In SocialProbing, a Computer Science group and a Statistics group have joined knowledge and skills. The first will be in charge of developing the computational aspects, proposing and deploying computer systems that serve for efficient storage and processing, while the second will propose the appropriate statistical techniques to generate knowledge of the new type of data that is generated via digital channels, which requires the development of new theory and techniques to ensure the consistency and reliability of the results. To show the utility and expand the potential impact of the project, the development of technological and methodological tools will be completed with their application to three timely problems of great relevance in society: (1) the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) social inequalities (such as gender), and (3) climate change (such as visibility and potential impact on society). These three are, indisputably, three of the most important problems in our society today, so their study is of great relevance both for scientific advancement and for the implementation of new technologies, transferable to the business fabric.