Social media offer all kinds of possibilities for entering dialogue with citizens. But what if you're an organisation in the security domain? TNO investigates for various customers both technological and societal innovations, examining the possibilities of social media through various projects. What are such investigations and projects about and what do they teach us about the role of social media?

Screenshot Twitcident

Citizen Warning Report

As soon as there is an incident in the Netherlands Twitter glows red hot with a mountain of unstructured data. But valuable data nonetheless. Data that can be used, for example, to determine the gravity of a situation and how the emergency services ought to be deployed. For the Utrecht municipal authorities TNO has therefore developed a tool that is able to deal with such huge quantities of data generated by social media. The aim is to enable the police in particular to manage and operate with these large quantities of data. A forerunner of the tool that is under development is Twitcident, which analyses Twitter messages during crises. This tool is already able to localise Twitter messages on a large scale, then select the most reliable messages and send them on to Twitter users. Fast, reliable information is what people need most when there is an incident or a disaster.

Influence of social media

In SON-M Online TNO is investigating the power of online social influence from three angles: macro, micro and reflective:

Dissemination of CNN tweets by the Twitter network
  • Macro – using datamining, social network analysis, agent-based modelling and visualisation, we identify patterns within the large quantity of online data, such as the dissemination of information and apportionment of sentiment.
  • Micro – at individual level, we distinguish three aspects: actor, message and social network characteristics. Theory development and data-analysis provide us with insight into the influence these three aspects exercise.
  • Reflective – TNO also looks at the impact of online social media on society and at the ethics of online social influence. Why do we do this? TNO wants to give organisations the tools to gain better insight into every conceivable aspect of online social networks so that messages via the social media are always effective.

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Dr. Marcel van Berlo