Today’s post is the last in a series of blog posts highlighting IACP 2013 social media workshops. This post is about the Leveraging Concepts and Techniques of Social Media Monitoring and Analytics to Enhance Special Event Security and Executive Protection Capabilities session on Monday, October 21.
This session, moderated by Bryan Ware, CEO and chief technology strategist of Digital Sandbox, was part of the Technology and Information Sharing track at IACP 2013. The workshop provided attendees with a good introduction to the fast-growing and ever-evolving field of social media monitoring, citing examples from Super Bowl XLVI and the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and HIDTA.
Social media is not just a “thing” but an environment that we work in and around. The volume and velocity of data available is ever-increasing from a broad variety of sources. Facebook is viewed as a higher quality source of data, since accounts are generally valid people. Special events can result in “Twitter bursts” – Japanese movie premiers, for example, or the Super Bowl with 11,000 tweets posted per second. When metadata from mobile devices is considered, including dates, times, and locations of posts, the volume of data is exponential.
Attendees were urged to prepare in advance when venturing into social media monitoring by developing a policy statement and identifying critical incident resources. Guidance on doing so can be found in a new BJA publication titled Developing a Policy on the Use of Social Media in Intelligence and Investigative Activities: Guidance and Recommendations
Natural language processing – that is, using machine assistance to find a signal amongst the noise of social media communication -- is one of the biggest developing technologies. Determining intent and sentiment is a challenge as keywords are not always reliable, particularly in English with its many euphemisms and double entendre.
Geo-location technology, or geo-hints that determine approximate location based on what is said, where, and when, is also a critical element to the social media monitoring puzzle.
Pitfalls of monitoring were also mentioned, particularly the prospect of social media as a way to frame another person or as a source of false leads.
Social media monitoring offers promise as an investigative public safety tool, but it is not without its detractors and pitfalls. What has been your agency’s experience with social media monitoring?