I provided a short presentation on social convergence it deals with national security in its broadest definition: emergency and crisis management. This is in recognition that the highest duty for any government is to ensure the well being of its citizens.
Here are some observations I made during the two day meeting:
- Agencies (law enforcement, counter-terrorism bodies, military) are paying great attention to open source intel coming from social networks.
- Most agencies recognize that relationships between individuals are no longer linear and in person ... social convergence (mobile + social) is both a source of empowerment for the people and an enabler (for good or bad).
- The same basic activities in terms of social media monitoring apply to both open source intel work and for emergency management and public health purposes: real time listening and analysis, collection and validation.
- After listening to the opinions of experts, I'm convinced that the most basic social listening tools we currently use (Hootsuite, Tweedeck, Geofeedia and others) are more than sufficient for EM purposes although they do not fill all needs for counter-terrorism or national security issues.
- There are some less known tools that can help validate social data.
- Despite the fact that the number of people who activate the GPS on their smartphone is quite small .... geo-location tools are supplemented by other algorithms/tools and can provide a large enough sample to get solid intel for situational awareness in emergencies.
- The work done by the likes of Patrick Meier (@patrickmeier), Project EPIC and others ... gives the #smem community more than solid "academic" backing to validate this whole new field of emergency management.
- Despite some negative examples (Reddit in the Boston Bombings for example) most military and intel organizations recognize the value of crowdsourced info ... despite the risks of the crowd getting it wrong .... the potential benefits cannot be ignored. It's something emergency management has already put in practice.
- And, surprisingly, more than a few people at the workshop think Edward Snowden did democracy a whole lot of good by forcing a public debate about the power of the state in the era of social convergence ...