The Edmonton City Centre Airport debate on Twitter

Edmontonians have been debating the future of the Edmonton City Centre Airport (the “Muni”) for years. With a “final” decision expected next month, the amount of discussion has definitely increased lately. As part of my own research into the subject, I turned to Twitter. I’d like to share with you what I found.

I started with a data set consisting of all tweets posted by local users in 2009 that contained either the word “airport”, the hashtag #ecca, or both. From January 1st until May 11th, a total of 852 tweets matched that criteria. Next, I narrowed that data set down to tweets specifically about the City Centre Airport. I ended up with 225 tweets in total. Obviously this data set doesn’t include all tweets that might be about the airport, but I’d say it’s fairly representative.

The first thing I wanted to look at was the general sentiment among local Twitter users. Should the airport be closed or not? This required manually looking at each of 225 tweets and making a judgment call. To clarify, here’s an example of each:

  • Pro-Airport:dmac666: ATCO: We need the airport,  #ECCA keeps edmonton competitive. #yeg http://tinyurl.com/cusb9f”
  • Pro-Closure:eglinski: Shut down the Edmonton City Centre Airport. Please. #yeg #citycentreairport #ABLeg”
  • N/A:Carywill: Anyone know if there are websites that present the case for closing of #citycenterairport? #yeg”

Here’s what I found:

Anecdotally, these results seem accurate. The debate seems fairly balanced in the media and “on the street” in that there are roughly equal numbers on either side, so it should be that way on Twitter too.

Next, I looked at the quantity of tweets per month:

As you can see there was a big jump in April, and I suspect May will be close when all is said and done. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a drop off in July.

Next, I wanted to know what people were linking to. There were 57 links inside the 225 tweets in the data set. Here are the top destinations:

Curiously, there weren’t many blogs in the results. I wonder if that will start to change?

Finally, here are the top ten tweeters (most tweets first): Carywill, dmac666, DebraWard, journalistjeff, AB_get_rich, davecournoyer, CityofEdmonton, michaeljanz, jdarrah, edmontonjournal.

Interesting data? Maybe. The ability to explore sentiments regarding local issues is of particular interest to me, and I’m going to look into that further in the months ahead.

Soon I’ll write up what I’ve learned and what my thoughts are on the ECCA issue.

  • eh

    Interesting post. I have a feeling you would have gotten even more tweets if you used ‘muni’ as a search term. Thanks for the info!

  • Good suggestion…I’ll have to look into that! Thanks!

  • Ed Gee

    How can we bring back full service to this airport? I never wanted our service to be broken up with the Edmonton International Airport or what ever city that it belongs to. The Muni used to bring in a lot of revenue to the city. What can I do to help your cause?