Ohio company gauges public feelings with ‘coronavirus panic index’

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a variety of feelings and responses. Now an Ohio company is using technology to monitor just what those feelings mean. 

Ohio-based tech company, Cognovi Labs, now has equipment that analyzes emotions, which is then quantified according to its meaning. CEO of the company, Beni Gradwohl, said this is how the coronavirus panic index operates. 

“Our technology listens to free-flowing, public conversations online. It could be social media, discussion forums and blogs and so on. All publicly available. And what it does is, it analyzes the conversation, whether it’s talking about COVID, it’s talking about shopping, restaurants, travel, whatever the topics are, then it extracts the emotional undertone.”

Project manager for Cognovi Dayton, Janet Smith, said the company got access to the artificial intelligence platform when it purchased the rights from Wright State University engineers in 2016. Since then, Cognovi has been able to pinpoint how people feel about the pandemic nationally and says the trend she’s seen locally indicates concern. 

Cognovi Lans analyzes online converstaions and social media to gauge how people feel about the pandemic. (Image: Cognovi Labs)

“Basically, what it measures, is the emotions around how people are feeling about the coronavirus. I saw sadness, I saw anger. From a word standpoint, I saw mask, mask law, pandemic.” 

Smith says since the state of Ohio was relatively successful at keeping the number of coronavirus cases low up until June, a recent increase in cases has led to more emotional responses. Associate Director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, Jodi Long, says even if your first instinct is panic, it’s important to be mindful of your feelings and to stay in touch with friends and family who will foster a positive mental perspective.

“Brain health will be more important than ever. As we hear a lot about social distancing, we really need to think of that as physical distancing. Social interactions are still key to our mental health.”

To see more of the coronavirus panic index, visit coronavirus.cognovilabs.com, or, to talk to a professional about daily stressors, call the Miami Valley warm line at 937-258-7777.

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