Monitoring & understanding online media on Cortina 2021
The social, technological, environmental and economic impact of this winter’s most relevant sport event
By Andrii Elyiv, Nikhil Aggarwal & Aldo Visibelli
From the 7th to the 21st of February 2021 Cortina d’Ampezzo hosted the most important international winter event held during the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Alpine Ski Championships “Cortina 2021”, a great competition that has become a symbol of hope and an image of the values of sport. In a world still grappling with the Covid-19 emergency, the rainbow competitions were held behind closed doors, in accordance with strict and necessary health protocols. With over 600 athletes from 70 countries set to gather in the striking scenery of the Dolomites in the hunt for medals in the various disciplines, the Alpine Skiing World Championships started with the women’s alpine race and finished with the men’s slalom. Two weeks of sport at the highest levels with various specialties, an opportunity to innovate, a global event with a direct economic, social, environmental and technological impact on the local territory.
This sportive event affected Cortina d’Ampezzo and nearby areas on the Dolomites in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. To assess the output of such event we split content published online in four distinct matters:
- Technological impact
Content of the above-mentioned topics could be employed to assess and evaluate, from an ESG perspective (Environmental, Social and Governance), the output of the committee organizing and managing Cortina 2021. We developed an algorithm to retrieve and collect relevant news from online media sources in an automized way. Subsequently, our solution could automatically evaluate the sentiment of the content of the article. “Economic” includes financial and investment related matters (ie employment of personnel, new infrastructures, etc.). In “environmental” we include news related to the impact of this event on the environment, the local flora and fauna. To understand “social” we monitored news about spectators, sponsorships and issues related to Covid pandemic restrictions (ie, closed doors). “Technological impact” includes various technological aspects of industry 4.0 based on Big Data.
From a technical point of view we could exploit Connexun’s news crawler to capture information in Italian, English and German language about Cortina 2021 published by different sources around the world. Next, with the help of keywords within text and titles, we extracted sentences in news related to the four above-mentioned parameters. We excluded content about athletes and on the results of competitions and focused only on the socio-economic influence of the championships. To evaluate sentiments we used a zero-shot learning approach for Natural Language Inference with BART’s model pre-trained on a MNLI dataset.
We aggregated news in daily and weekly clusters and calculated the average confidence of sentiments. Sentiments would go from “-1” (very negative statement), through “0” (neutral), to “+1” (very positive) with intermediate values. The width of the bars corresponds to the number of news items per day/week (see legend on the right). The colour indicates the average sentiment per day: green if positive, red if negative. The length of the bars indicates the intensity of the average sentiment. In the rectangle of the tooltip in our interactive dashboard (firstname.lastname@example.org for the link) you will find the list of phrases from that same day (or week) to understand why the sentiment is positive or negative. The articles run from the 15th of November 2020 to the 14th of February 2021. The top right of the page has the option to save the page as a SVG or PNG file.
It is clear, as shown above and below, that the sentiment shows an increasingly positive trend as the event approaches and that the volume of articles published (the attention from the media) is incremental as time goes by. With regards to the graph on the economic impact of the ski championships (see above), negative articles shown with the red bars concern mainly Covid-19 hampering local tourism. The green bars represent a wide range of positive content, amongst which articles about the successful relationship between banks (and in particular Banca Ifis), local businesses and sports representatives.
As evident above we can find some clusters exclusively with positive news. The focus of the content of this cluster is on hyper-technological ski suits developed by Emporio Armani (EA7), one of the main sponsors of Cortina 2021. Another recurrent theme is on Audi, the four-ringed brand, launching a new format to allow the public to experience the emotions of the winter sports season in a different way: a physical and digital studio with ad hoc programming. Audi Talk, divided into eight appointments (streaming on myaudi.it) located in Alta Badia, Cortina and Madonna di Campiglio, demonstrates how technological innovation can restore value to the environment and respond to the fundamental need to protect natural resources.
Negative articles on sustainable matters are coming from one specific source: Altreconomia. The source, represented with the red bars in the graph above, challenges the considerations of Susanna Sieff, Sustainability Manager of Cortina 2021 and discusses the effect of new infrastructures on the environment. Another topic is energy and E-Distribuzione’s commitment through initiatives and actions for the territory and the community in the name of sustainability. In anticipation of the event, the company, which operates in Italy in the electricity distribution and measurement sector, has upgraded the electricity infrastructure serving the facilities and businesses involved.
With regards to “Social Impact”, the only articles with negative sentiment are those mentioning the great regret of holding the event behind closed doors because of Covid. The red bars beween the 10th of January and the 17th discuss the state of emergency and spectators consequently not attending competitions. The green bar on the 1st of February 2021 mentions the video for the ski championships promoted by Cortina Marketing, the resort’s official tourist promotion agency, and produced by CortinAteatro, the cultural event curated by Musincantus and Associazione Gelsomina, with the patronage of Fondazione Cortina 2021 and the Municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Institutions, companies and cultural organisations from the Ampezzo and Veneto regions have joined forces to make the initiative a truly choral one, an expression of all the “souls” of the Queen of the Dolomites.
Most of the news we captured, as shown above, came from “ilgazzettino.it”, which is the main newspaper in the northeast of Italy (based in Mestre). Lots of other news about Cortina 2021 came from national media sources such as: ansa.it, isole24ore.com, money.it, vanityfair.it. The distribution of the outlets is peculiar, very broad and distinctive. The top five sources for volume of articles published during the timeframe under scrutiny intercept different types of audiences.
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