Image: American Airlines

Dataminr searches the Internet for company mentions the way a radar scans an area for unusual objects. If it picks up something out of the ordinary, it’ll notify you.

In-flight Wi-Fi is great for travelers, but potentially a headache for airlines: Constant connectivity means cabin drama can begin trending across the Internet almost immediately. Airlines are turning to artificial intelligence services like Dataminr to monitor these situations more effectively and stay ahead of the press.

Some airlines, such as KLM and Southwest, have dedicated social listening centers where employees monitor their brand mentions across Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. This strategy has been highly successful, but Dataminr takes it a step further. It uses machine learning to identify brand mentions and other relevant information anywhere online, relaying that data to clients in real time.

Dataminr technically isn’t a social listening tool, as its scope isn’t limited to social media: The platform scours the entire web for breaking information and events so companies can be informed almost from the moment these conversations begin. This is game changing for airline public relations teams, allowing them to be more agile during a crisis.

American Airlines is among the carriers using Dataminr to manage communications and security operations. In January 2017, for example, Dataminr alerted the airline to an active-shooter situation at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. American was able to work with law enforcement to keep its ground teams and customers updated while using Dataminr’s insights to strategically reroute flights.

Neil Steinberg, vice-president of Public Relations and Crisis Communications Sales at Dataminr, describes a situation where the company was able to quickly detect reports of an engine explosion that led to an emergency landing, and provide clients with alerts well before the story hit the newswires. “This gave airlines, airports and companies involved real-time context as the event unfolded, and as a result, allowed them the appropriate time to coordinate a communications strategy to identify potential impacts and minimize detrimental effects.”

“When there is close collaboration across operations, communications and security teams, then the communications lead can be more efficient.” – Neil Steinberg, Dataminr

Dataminr isn’t just for damage control either – the platform’s alerts can help streamline cross-team communications. “When there is close collaboration across operations, communications and security teams, then the communications lead can be more efficient and solve problems more quickly,” Steinberg says. “Dataminr connects the dots between organizational divisions to drive greater value for the business as a whole.”

“Breaking News” was originally published in the 9.1 February/March issue of APEX Experience magazine.