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Social Networking Analysis and Homeland Security

Cross-posted from my Posterous blog
– The Army Major – a Military Intelligence officer – is monitoring that blog. If any of you are willing to comment publicly, please provide your responses there.

If you desire to provide anonymous input for his thesis, either
email me directly. All such responses will be considered for non-attribution unless otherwise indicated.

Social Networking Analysis & #crowdsourcing. How can #web20 tools assist in fighting terrorism? Thesis at @usacgsc

Can social networking assist analysts fight terrorism?

A U.S. Army Major at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC),participating in the Master of Military Art and Science (MMAS) degree program, poses that as the primary research question in the draft prospectus for his thesis.

The thesis – set within the focused program of Homeland Security Studies- proposes the following problem statement and research questions:

Problem Statement

Too much information frequently over-burdens analysts when identifying potentially dangerous activities. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, many of the 9/11 terrorists operating on U.S. soil possessed not only linkages to terrorist organizations in other countries, but also to each other. A great deal of the information that associated several of the involved parties was publicly available in unclassified forums.

Primary Research Question

* Can social networking assist analysts fight terrorism?

Secondary Research Questions

* What was the publicly available data on the 9/11 terrorists prior to the attack?
* How does social networking create linkages?
* How do U.S. analysts normally process Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)?

Crowdsourcing a Thesis

As the Chair of his MMAS Committee, I suggested asking those questions of the Web 2.0 community. Following David Meerman Scott’s (@dmscott) example, where he incorporated his blog articles and user comments into the latest version of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, perhaps the research could be furthered through crowdsourcing.

Discussion Questions

Any issues with the proposed problem statement or research questions?

Recently Secretary Napolitano and DHS made the news when announcing the extension of the “If You See Something, Say Something” Campaign to Walmart Stores Across the Nation.

Does the analysis as proposed by this thesis merely extend that concept of “help[ing] the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation” from the physical domain to the virtual one?

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