[Infographic] Terror on the streets of Melbourne

Unfortunately no-one is exempt from terror events happening as was the case in Melbourne on Friday 9th November 2018. During events of this nature it is critical to get rapid information from a variety of sources.

Signal customers were quickly able to identify the existence of the incident and gather on-going information related to the incident.

 Read on to see information gathered by Signal in infographic format.


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Seeing in the Dark - Exposing the Dark Web

There is plenty of online information regarding the dark web – mostly accurate, although it can be daunting to understand the various nuances. One of the better overviews I have seen can be seen at http://cartwrightking.co.uk/news/the-dark-web

The article and supporting infographic provide a good summary of the various ‘layers’ of the Internet and how they can be accessed.

Understanding that, by its very nature, the Dark Web is the place to lurk out of sight, which makes it a logical source of information and vehicle to perform nefarious or illegal activities.  

These conversations and activities may be relevant to Signal subscribers, hence the addition of Dark Web as a data source for Signal Gold subscribers.

Examples of activities that have been identified from dark web content include;

  • Online markets selling stolen and fake goods

  • Impersonation of individuals or organizations

  • Details in regard to hacking or incitement to hack

  • Reputational risk via fake news or impersonation

  • Illegal activities such as drugs and drug paraphernalia

One of the benefits that Signal provides is the ability to review the dark web post content (text only) without needing to utilize a Tor browser – simply review the content from within your Signal browser session.

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Dark Web is available today for Signal subscribers with a gold or better subscription– if you are interested in more information in regard Signal or the dark web content, then contact us info@signalpublicsafety.com

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The Power of Emotional Analysis - introducing Signal Spotlight

Signal Spotlight provides a real-time overview of the emotional state of Signal search results. Using Signal Spotlight, Signal users can better understand the prevalence and drivers of emotions and what is happening in real-time. Spotlight taps into the results  from Signal search criteria across many data sources to better understand the prevalence and drivers of emotions. For example during an incident or event, an important attribute is how people are feeling about what has happened and how the emotional state may be changing real-time as that incident/event unfolds.



The Spotlight underlying technology uses a large vocabulary of emotion terms that were compiled from multiple sources, including the ANEW and LIWC corpora, and a list of moods from LiveJournal.  In addition a crowdsourcing task was run to organise these terms against Parrott's hierarchy of emotions. The emotions are colour-coded using a dataset of affective norms provided by the Center for Reading Research at Ghent University.

Spotlight leverages technology and research undertaken by the Language and Social Computing team in the Digital Economy Programme of CSIRO's Digital Productivity Flagship and originally developed as a joint project between computer scientists at CSIRO and mental health researchers at The Black Dog Institute.


Milne, D., Paris, C., Christensen, H., Batterham, P. and O'Dea, B. (2015) We Feel: Taking the emotional pulse of the world. In the Proceedings of the 19th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2015), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, August 2015.

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[Infographic] Hurricane Harvey victims take to social media

When catastrophic events strike, emergency services are seeing a growing reliance on social media by those affected. Citizens are going online to ask for help, mark themselves as safe and support relief efforts.

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas at the end of August 2017, due to the scale of the disaster, traditional tools were unable to cope. 

Although unprecedented in modern history, the impact of Harvey shows that agencies need to recognize the importance of channels like social media.

With our analysis, we have pinpointed aspects that occurred during the event. Post-event recovery is another area where additional situational awareness can be gained ... but that’s a topic for another blog.

Read on for all the information we gathered in infographic format.


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Case Study: How Emergency Management Victoria Leverage Social Media Intelligence To Their Advantage

Justin Kibell, Manager of Operational Intelligence, Emergency Management Victoria

Justin Kibell, Manager of Operational Intelligence, Emergency Management Victoria

We spoke with one of our customers, Justin Kibell - the Manager of Operational Intelligence for Emergency Management Victoria (EMV), to see what he thought the most important uses for monitoring online data were, when emergencies arose.

Here's what Justin had to say:

One of the key principles we use in our Intelligence section is to consider a broad range of information from different sources and agencies. Open source is a key source of information directly from the community, but it comes with a lot of noise.

It can often be difficult to locate the key pieces of information and this is why we have been using Signal to assist us with efficiently gathering and collating open source content across a range of platforms.

The key drivers for information gathering from social media platforms are similar to that of other information channels monitored by Intelligence Analysts.  Open source information such as social media provides an opportunity to corroborate information from other sources and in some cases discover additional (important) information shared directly by the public who are on scene or potentially impacted.

"... Intelligence Analysts utilise the powerful search and monitoring features of Signal..."

Our Intelligence Analysts utilise the powerful search and monitoring features of Signal to search through various open source streams to locate information across a range of intelligence requirements such as:

1. Gauging Public Sentiment – to assist the social media team in our Public Information team, we use Signal to help determine what the community is saying about the emergency and the Governments response, both positive and negative.

2. Monitor News Coverage – searching local and interstate news websites, journalists and associated influencers, we use Signal to help obtain a bird’s eye view of what media are reporting which we pass onto the Public Information team to address and minimise misinformation.

3. Situational Awareness – using Signal to search and collate information from videos, images and descriptions of damage posted online is incredibly useful to our analysts both in building a more complete picture of what is going on (including known and potential impacts), but also in assisting our predictive services team with on scene observations which help validate their modelling such as photos with smoke plumes and fire behaviour showing.


4. Survey Damaged Areas – pinpointing the worst hit areas with observations directly from the community assists us in more efficiently deploying resources to areas with the most need. The geo-located content he at map feature quickly highlight key areas of interest.


"... using Signal for over two years now"

At the State Control Centre we have been using Signal for over two years now. Our Intelligence Analysts have positively commented on improvements to the usability and features of the tool and look forward to using the new information offered through the new “Spotlight” functionality.

Over the last three years our social media emergency management intelligence capability has grown and throughout this period Signal has been an important and valuable tool in the tool chest used by our team.

Justin Kibell,  Manager of Operational Intelligence, EMV

Justin's experience with Signal demonstrates the various benefits social media offers for emergency management intelligence. 

How are you using open source intelligence in your emergency reponse efforts?

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5 Signs Your Corporate Security Department Needs a Better Way of Monitoring Social Media

It’s no secret social media is now a key source of intelligence for corporate security professionals. But with so many social media monitoring tools to choose from; departments can easily end up choosing software that hasn’t been developed with their needs in mind, i.e. social media monitoring software built for marketing purposes.

This poor choice often impacts efficiency, results and ultimately hurts the bottom line and, in some cases, employees.

Here are 5 tell-tale signs that’ll help you work out if the social media monitoring tool your corporate security department uses, needs an overhaul.

1.     Sometimes they’re the “last to know”

News travels fast these days. Some call it “the speed of internet”. What this means is, everyone and anyone with an internet connection can learn about and/or spread the breaking news happening at your corporation.

This increases the chance of staff members finding out things before your corporate security department does. Especially when it’s happening in a retail store or near the event your CEO is speaking at.

Corporate security departments using operationally focused social media monitoring tools give themselves a better chance of being in the “first to know” camp.

2.     Reports are missing known threats

Lack of awareness can linger long past the date something occurred (especially for potentially threats that haven’t developed fully).

When regular reports are missing developed or developing threats, that are already known to senior executives (whose lives and lively hoods depend on it), it may result in a loss of confidence from the executive team. Even when the corporate security department think they are being as effective as possible.

The wrong tooling might provide you with what looks like the most relevant and timely information, but you’re often missing the complete picture.

The right tooling, developed specifically for protecting executives, assets and supply chains, often provides more advanced/targeted search capabilities, e.g. Boolean search, than typical marketing related tools - where the focus is on brand and reputation management as well as social engagement.

3.     Incident response times are slow

Further to point 1. above, if your team is unaware of a threat, or simply hear about it too late, this can have a flow on effect and impact the overall incident response time. Potentially putting the safety of staff and executives at risk, impacting “Duty of Care” responsibilities and even losing revenue or impacting costs.

Having the right monitoring tool often means you can plan ahead (building out a calendar of events to monitor), giving you a better chance of being the “first to know” and therefore speeding up incident response times.

4.     Small incidents often escalate

You guessed it! Catching threats early can keep small incidents… Well, small. Saving you and your team from troublesome bigger incidents in the future. So, how does Social Media come into this?

Sometimes the earliest signals come from the most unusual sources. Social Media, if used with the right monitoring software, can act as an early warning system for you and your team. It can even supply this early intelligence directly to your phone via SMS or email so you are always on top of new incident’s.

5.     Your team is too reactive

If you’re the Head of Corporate Security and you can’t understand why your team never seems to be prepared for events such as executive travel and retail store/office openings.

It could be a sign they need to move to operationally focused social media monitoring software where they can plan ahead and schedule monitoring at certain locations over certain dates, times or seasons.

This not only instils a more active team culture, it’ll also reduce stress and allows your team to be in a better frame of mind when things really matter.


Just three years ago there was very little in the way of social media monitoring software tailored for corporate security professionals. Early adopters persevered, as a stop gap, with tools designed for marketers.

These days’ things are a little different:

  • The role of corporate security in any large corporation is becoming more important
  • Social media is an open source of intelligence when it comes to protecting executives, digital/physical assets and supply chains
  • Access to social media is now in the hands of the majority (wherever they are)
  • Threats can be indirectly identified via social media posts made by the public and media

And, most importantly, tools have been created specifically for corporate security professionals to make use to this free intelligence source.

The question is: Are you already making the most of these new tools or is it time to make the shift?

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What Free & Abundant Resource May Have Helped Emergency Teams Contain the Chilean Wildfires?

Long gone are the days of relying on traditional sources of intelligence on the front line of a disaster - phone calls, emails sent from laptops, even SMS messages.

In today’s world of the Internet, Smartphone and Social Media there is an intelligence source in the hands of almost every citizen.

This abundance of intelligence has been highlighted no more so than during the 2017 Chilean wildfires.

With the fires covering such a vast land mass and in such a short period of time, emergency response teams needed a free and fast flow of intelligence to help protect towns - saving lives and property.

Aerial shot of the wildfire devastation

Aerial shot of the wildfire devastation

So, What's The Resource?

The photos and videos posted on Social Media provide enhanced situational awareness to emergency response teams. This level of insight was near on impossible to generate or acquire before the rise of social networks.

Why Photos & Videos Shared on Social Media are the Best Freely Available Source of Wildfire Intelligence Today

Photos often tell a better story, especially in a wildfire. The size of flames, what’s on fire, where fires are and how accessible they might be are just some of the reasons photos shared on Twitter and Instagram are such a useful source of intelligence.

Here are some different ways emergency response teams can use photos to enhance their situational awareness during a wildfire.

1.    Help identify potential flare ups or new wildfires
Tracking images using Geo location data (which is available on some social media networks) can not only help identify new areas where fire is spreading but also areas where fires have restarted.

2.    Check if Emergency Response teams are at the scene
Photos often include people and when emergency services turn up, it’s usually a time when citizens start taking snaps. This makes it easy for command centers to know when teams are at the scene and sometimes the potential issues they may be facing.

3.    Check for casualties and if medical assistance is required
Bystanders may take pictures of injured people being helped by other civilians. This can act as an alert to deploy medical staff. Or if medical staff are already at the scene it may help identify if enough have been deployed.

4.    Understand the size and scale of the fire at specific locations
Imagery from media stations is often a good source in helping determine the size and scale of a wildfire. Helicopters and drones provide a unique point of view.

While photos at ground level can help complete the picture for emergency teams. 

5.    Check to see if property or infrastructure is at risk from the wildfire
When wildfires start encroaching on built up areas images posted on social media can provide early warning signs that the fire may be spreading into communities or across roads and railway tracks.

As you can see, if you're an emergency management professional, you should be using the images freely available on social media to help aid your efforts during a wildfire (and other emergencies), giving you a better chance of preventing further damage and protecting the public.

"Nuestros pensamientos están con la gente de Chile que ha sido afectada por los incendios forestales." - the Signal Team

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Are You Staying Alert for Changes in Your Supply Chain?

When a factory in Reddi-wip’s supply chain suffered an explosion, little did they know that in a couple of months the resulting shortage of their popular canned cream brand (produced by ConAgra Foods) would blow up online.

By December, just as the Christmas season got into full swing, terms such as "Whippocalypse" and "Creamageddon" began trending on social media. The lack of canned cream for apple pie and pumpkin spiced lattes was causing an uproar online in the US.

What could ConAgra have done to prevent this?

Corporations like ConAgra should have active monitoring in place for their entire supply chain, to help ensure they are notified of any incidents and can take action as quickly as possible.

This gives additional time to help mitigate risk and prepare crisis comms to both staff, their distribution network and the community.

In some cases, early alerts give corporations enough time to initiate a plan B, avoiding a crisis altogether.

Is your corporation monitoring their supply chain?

If not, here are just a few more good reasons they should:

  • Your executive team will be praising you for the early "heads up"
  • You're ultimately protecting forecast revenue and future business opportunities
  • Your executive team will have more time to initiate a plan B, or at least put together a solid PR plan
  • Your operations team will have more time to redistribute their production line workers onto other tasks

Don't be the last to find out critical information. Ensure you know everything that's going on with your supply chain and be the first to know when news of a crisis breaks online. Gather situational awareness from Open Source Intelligence to stay one step ahead when disaster strikes.

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How to Leverage Additional Intelligence to Assist with Corporate Responsibilities such as "Duty of Care"

A recent fire in an Australian bank branch had us raising this question:

"How important is it to monitor social media chatter to ensure you are meeting your 'Duty of Care' responsibilities?"

Now consider this, by having online monitoring in place for each branch, a bank could be alerted to an incident that could have impacted staff, customers and business continuity in real-time, even before being notified through official channels. And in the case of this particular incident the bank may have seen this post on Twitter before information filtered through official channels:


This real time information not only helps corporate security teams deal with the immediate aftermath, but also ensures 'Duty of Care' responsibilities are being met.

If your bank or corporation isn't monitoring the open source intelligence available, you're missing out on huge potential for mitigating risk and increasing situational awareness, as well as giving you precious extra minutes to respond.

This goes toward ensuring all bases are covered when it comes to the safety of staff and customers, and helps you to respond more effectively to the needs of the crisis.

Here are some ways Open Source Intelligence can assist 'Duty of Care' and mitigate risk:

To recap, a man lit an accelerant in a Commonwealth Bank branch, setting fire to himself and bystanders and leaving 27 people injured – with two in critical condition. It was a very serious and terrifying situation, with the potential for backlash.


1. Be the first to know

Videos and images of the fire were being posted online from the get-go. The crisis played out in real-time online, with news of the incident breaking on Twitter first.


2. Tick off safety requirements, improve response time

Are you doing all you can? Being the first to see online commentary would tick off precautionary boxes, as well as save valuable minutes in response time so extra preparation could go into crisis comms and disaster response.


3. Corroborate real-time visual data to increase situational awareness

It's not only 'Duty of Care' that online updates can assist with. They could also have helped increase situational awareness for firefighters responding to the scene.

With the details on what actually caused the explosion still being investigated, online information could have helped fire investigators find witnesses and corroborate this additional intelligence into what was already known.


4. Monitor community chatter in the incident aftermath

It is not just during the incident that it is important to follow online conversations. Post-event it is important to listen to community chatter, ensure citizens are coping and that no misinformation is being spread.

After a crisis hits, people want to know details of the incident and how long it will take for things to return to normal.


By monitoring social media, you can be the first to know when something has gone wrong and help to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

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6 Ways Gatlinburg Emergency Teams Could Have Increased the Safety of Residents After The Wildfire

Whilst 14 lives were tragically lost during the Gatlinburg wildfire, this number may have been higher without  many residents posting photos and videos of the blaze online.

In the past, this sea of information in and around a disaster zone did not exist. But in today's world it brings with it an opportunity to save lives through insight not previously available.

Here are six easy ways emergency responders could have used this information in order to increase safety in the community during and after the wildfire.

1. Monitor for instances of online vitriol and hate speech (especially as there was possibly a suspect behind the incident):

2. Monitor ‘vigilante justice’ and ensure any manhunt-style posts are kept both accurate and under control:


3. Corroborate online updates that include photos and footage of the incident, to increase situational awareness – all of which could help fire investigators after the fact.

As arson was suspected, these posts could also be used to help find witnesses:

4. Monitor posts informing when the town would be reopening

It is important to keep an eye on these to ensure they are accurate and to pinpoint any misinformation before it spreads.

5. Stay informed as to what complementary agencies are communicating to the public and other public service announcements, to ensure statements are both accurate and align with your efforts

6. Stay informed of public opinion on how agencies are responding to the disaster


If you’re not monitoring social media during a disaster, you are missing out on important intelligence and don’t have the full picture.

To see how Signal can help you be more situationally aware during an emergency, watch the short demo or request a full demo from one of our team.

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