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Academic researchers want to know: Is there a connection between the things people tweet and the way a sports team performs?

Now those researchers at the University of East London will be able to find out. Twitter has just granted them access to public and historical Twitter data.

Five other research groups won grants to such data after Twitter announced the program in February, Twitter platform engineering vice president Raffi Krikorian wrote in a blog post today. More than 1,300 other research groups applied.

While academic types expect fascinating findings from the Twitter corpus, companies have sought to gain access to Twitter’s data, too. Twitter has been waking up to the wisdom of positioning its core product as a key ingredient for big data — see its Gnip acquisition.

Twitter’s data grant program has a nerdy tinge to it, but it could also be interpreted as sideways marketing.

Still, it’s interesting what Twitter thinks is worthy of analysis of its data. Here are the other winning projects, according to today’s blog post:

  • Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital: Foodborne gastrointestinal illness surveillance using Twitter data
  • NICT (Japan): Disaster Information Analysis System
  • University of Twente (Netherlands): The diffusion and effectiveness of cancer early detection campaigns on Twitter
  • University of California, San Diego: Do happy people take happy images? Measuring happiness of cities
  • University of Wollongong (Australia): Using GeoSocial Intelligence to model urban flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia

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