September 9, 2013
Emotive is a computer program developed by a team of researchers from Loughborough University (LBU)that can scan an estimated 2,000 tweets per second and access the mood of a nation using Twitter.
Emotive will help governments gage the propensity of a society toward civil unrest while pointing toward the identification of possible threats to public safety.
The LBU Center for Information Management stated that this new system will “extract a direct expression of anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion from each tweet.”
Researchers explained that by “using the Emotive software to geographically evaluate any mass mood could help police to track potential criminal behavior or threats to public safety. It may be able to guide national policy on the best way to react to major incidents.”
Tom Jackson, lead author and head of the team at LBU said: “Public postings through social media gave a very accurate real-time record of how and what people were feeling.”
Jackson went on to say: “Following the murder of solider Lee Rigby in Woolwich there was an outpouring of sadness and disgust through Twitter. Across the country people expressed their emotions at this unprovoked attack, with some using the incident to incite racial hatred against Muslims. Two days after his murder his family appealed for calm, stating that their son would not have wanted his name to be used as an excuse to carry out attacks against others. This appeal had an almost immediate effect, leading to an outpour of positive sentiment.”
Jackson is convinced that “Twitter is a very concise platform through which users express how they feel about a particular event, be that a criminal act, a new government policy or even a change in the weather. Through the computer program we have created we can collate these expressions of feelings in real time, map them geographically and track how they develop.”
Emotive is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Admittedly, Emotive will analyze “sensitive words and phrases which may be of concern to the military and national security agencies” with the use of the Natural Language Processing technique (NLPT).
This software program “monitors the traffic of sensitive words and phrases filtered through the ontology when applied to specific incidents, individuals and groups. Increased activity is indicated by frequency of occurrence or severity, which can be presented through a concept cloud which uses the size of words as a metaphor for frequency and hence importance, with a color-coded indication of the strength of emotion attached to the language-based terms.”
Then the “location of the emotionally-charged traffic” is confirmed through geolocating metadata which identifies “sensitive hot spots of communication and activities.”
Earlier this year, Raytheon announced their latest surveillance tool called Rapid Information Overlay Technology (RIOT) which is “capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behavior by mining data from social networking websites.”
Jared Adams, spokesman for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems department, stated: “RIOT is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation’s rapidly changing security needs. Its innovative privacy features are the most robust that we’re aware of, enabling the sharing and analysis of data without personally identifiable information [such as social security numbers, bank or other financial account information] being disclosed.”
In 2010, as part of a research initiative, RIOT was being tested by the US government and industry partners to create a national security system that would analyze “trillions of entities” on the internet.
Steve Hawkins, vice president of information security solutions at Raytheon said: “Analytics is the key to outmaneuvering our adversaries in the face of the staggering volume, variety and velocity of information in cyberspace.”
RIOT creates a profile on any individual based on information inputted into social media sites and could be used to anticipate how that particular person will act in the future.
Using location analysis of photographs posted by users, Brian Urch, principle investigator for Raytheon, says that a precise longitude and latitude can be deciphered because those coordinates are embedded by smartphones within “exif header data.”
By displaying a spider diagram, an individual’s associations and “relationships” that are connected to through information provided by Facebook and Twitter, data is mined by RIOT and translated into graph form for easy tracking.