“Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop.”
Michelangelo like most of the polymath heroes of my past has always had a unique way of stating the very complicated, in the simplest of terms. When we apply his advice and knowledge of “carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop.” We find the true wisdom and possibly the answer to dealing with today’s inundation of digital media and technology overload as digital media and especially social media grow at exponential rates. The sheer amount of information pertaining to any individual client, whether it be an organization, brand, or individual, is found to expand in digital space at a exponential pace.
Years ago, law enforcement and security practitioners learn to embrace the geographic information system (GIS) as a valuable tool in processing large amounts of data in relation to population demographics, crime analysis and even traffic analysis. All of these helped us to provide a better service to our clients and still do, when used in a scientific and evidence-based protective package. Of course some of the drawbacks to this was that you were only able to analyze data that was are ready collected. Making this more of a reaction to patterns of the past. Of course hoping not to repeat history, but the collection of the data, in and of itself was the slowest part to it all. Of course, computers and systems have become increasingly faster, but the point that is still missing is the ability to know what is happening on the ground, in real time.
In short, the human element. By studying the history of any group of people, neighborhood, region or nation, we can easily determine what the general populations tempo is. Or more correctly what it was at the time of the study. But as we are all too aware of, in today’s dynamic and shifting social space the mood of the crowd, the city and even a nation can change at an explosive rate.
As web 2.0 technology spreads across the world, digital networking platforms such as social media sites, forums, and blogs are used to disseminate user-generated information in real time. Principals often use social media with GPS enabled tools (such as foursquare, Instagram, and Twitter) in an effort to stay in touch with their fan base, trusted circle of friends or even those hired to protect them. Unfortunately, this practice can unwittingly empower nefarious characters such as Paparazzi, stalkers, and other security threats, who can use posted information as a surveillance tool.
Social Media is the most powerful tool currently available for early detection, tracking, and prediction of events that threaten personal security both domestically and abroad. The fact that these networks exist in plain sight, are vastly dense, and capable of nearly instantly mobilizing or informing groups or individuals represents both their most exploitable feature and their greatest challenge. Protection Details require a Social Media analytics capability that rapidly supports real-time situational awareness across a broad spectrum of personal security requirements. Social Media analytics enable faster risk-related decisions based on the most current information available. Three areas where Social Media analytics provides threat indicators to a Principal are – sentiment analysis to identify emerging trends, measures of effectiveness, and identity resolution.
“The ability to rapidly ingest, identify, monitor and exploit relationship, trends, and collective thought evolving out of Internet based social networks will be the most critical analytical capability requirement of the next decade.”
Social Media sentiment analysis is critical in identifying public opinion of a Principal. Often this type of information is kept within Public Relations (PR) and Image Consulting arenas and not shared with the protection detail in a timely manner. This stove piping of critical information leads to an unnecessary risk to the Principal and the detail charged with protection. As PR firms push out campaigns to shape controversial or celebratory information in an attempt to improve the Principal’s image, they often conduct internal measures of effectiveness and reach. If this information is not fused with personal security risk analysis plans and operations, vital information is lost. Furthermore, most PR firms do not have trained risk consultants that are looking
for underlying security risks. In order for
a protection provider to identify and
thwart a threat, they need trained analysts versed in personal security and threat detection.
“As the use of social media increases, the potential for more flash mobs that are used for political protest and for criminal purposes is likely to increase.”
— Dr. Linda Kiltz
As technology expands, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make confident identity resolution decisions. Social Media is the simplest environment to create a false persona; however, identifiable patterns and traits are visible leading back to a true identity. Without forensic software, deducing the true identity of an email account or social media account can take months.
Emerging technologies, such as the one I currently utilize at my firm Global Options & Solutions, close the above mentioned security vulnerabilities and gaps. Specialized strategic social media analysis solution, combines political, social, economic, and security expertise to derive meaning from the ever-growing body of internet-generated data, efficiently identifying ideological and social trends that mobilize populations. We have taken advantage of big data computing to derive situational awareness from nonobvious relationships and social media trends. Based on client-defined taxonomies, the system ingests huge volumes of unstructured text, video, and photo data, applies machine analytics, and creates manageable levels of data for human analysis. This enables data viewing, aggregation, and analysis, all through one secure private collaborative portal.
Due to what was commercially available when we started providing this service, we saw the need for improvements that were just not available at the time. Through collaboration with people and companies that had experience on a global scale. We were able to develop a system that addressed our biggest concerns; true analysis in their native tongue, non-obvious relationships, geospatial overlay, identity resolution, trends and evolving topics, language translation, engagement analytics and predictive modeling. In other words, we needed a system that truly would “understand” the data for the environment that we were working, whether locally or abroad and for the variety of countries that we provide our services in. We also need a system that would not look at social media by taking a small percentage or “sampling” of what was out there, but something that would truly look at everything.
So, by following Michelangelo’s advice of “carving away” we are able to get to the “skin” or important part of the matter in a quick and efficient manner. Which enables us to have clear and concise information presented in a timely manner. This allows us to still correct action and avoid the majority of pitfalls that befall our competitors, that rely on the old model of basing today’s tactics, techniques and procedures on yesterday’s information. Allowing us to present a factually based protective intelligence and threat assessment product to our client in a real-time manner.
Using Social Media Analytics to Identify Client Risk –
By: Raffaele Di Giorgio
Raffaele Di Giorgio is the CEO of Global Options & Solutions and an active Operator within the circuit. For more information visit www.GOS911.com
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