“Suddenly there is a paradigm shift in the millennial mind share and the heavy lifting is no longer absorbed through organic growth but rather we push the envelope on the run way of fleet dynamism to the point where sustainability becomes survival strategy and sisterhood loses synergy with wellness. Moving forward, we abandon the holistic approach, we break through the clutter of alignment and step back inside the box…the new normal…spin up…grow…diversity through empowerment bent on an exit strategy. It’s in our wheelhouse to streamline the win. Generation X reaches out…face time…clear goal. At the end of the day all we need is some disruptive innovation…………moving forward.”
If this sounds like a dialogue you might hear only at a TED Talks symposium you’d be wrong. While many of this techno-jargon has become common in our daily world of short words and long binary rhythms, we must accept we live in this age of communication technology….and everybody’s talking.
But who monitors that talk? How do we know who’s talking about what? Where and when is that talk happening? How can we use this information to our advantage and why is it important in todays world?
Luckily, one of the biggest providers of social media monitoring is a company called “Echosec”, coming right out of our sister city, Victoria B.C. Echosec has been around since 2014, as a BC-based start-up technology company, founded by Karl Swannie. Since then, Echosec has quickly become an invaluable tool for law enforcement, journalists and (of course) private investigators.
To explain in the company’s own words, Echosec is “is a location-based search platform that provides […] professionals [with] actionable knowledge based on social media and other information”
But what is “actionable knowledge” and how exactly does social media provide it?
Geolocation refers to the identification of where digital information originates from. Often (and in the best case scenario) a social media post will contain this information in the form of “GPS coordinates”: one number for the “latitude” and one for the “longitude”. When entered into a computer program, these two numbers together, provide a location so exact that a satellite can identify it perfectly from over 36,000 kilometers away!
In the example below, we are looking at the GPS coordinates of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, as seen in an Instagram posting.
Source: http://ow.ly/CYRQ30dOAiW [Permadi]
Source: @toureiffelofficielle – Instagram Account
Where geolocation becomes very useful, and where Echosec excels, is the wide-scale collection of geolocated data and providing a platform for it to be searched.
To continue with our “Eiffel Tower” example, let’s take another look at this location using Echosec:
Simply by drawing a “box” around this location on a map, we get a much better picture of what’s currently being talked about around the Eiffel tower, as well as who is doing the talking! All that information is gained, simply by harnessing the power of GPS coordinates and the social media platforms that use them!
All the results are shown on the left-hand side, while each post can be viewed on the right:
Source: results from Echosec App
But why is it useful to the private investigator?
Echosec isn’t just for international eavesdropping online. There are a myriad of uses for the application.
To use a local example, one can enter the recent “#bcwildfire” hashtag and view up-to-the-minute results from both individual users and news/safety organizations. Whether you’re an investigator scoping out a location before travelling there or verifying information given by an insurance claimant or witness, geolocation can prove itself essential:
Source: search results from EchoSec App
To use another investigative example, from Canada, take the case of Isabelle Lagace and Melina Roberge. These two Canada women were, to use the popular phrase, “Instagram-famous” for their globe-trotting vacation adventure pictures.
However, as it became clear the two women were engaged in large-scale cocaine trafficking , their travel posts (as seen below) would soon be their undoing.
It’s not clear whether the two intended for these posts to act as a plausible “alibi” for their travel activities or if they simply didn’t know when to stop using social media, but the Canadian authorities were left with a perfect, geolocated timeline of the two partners criminal exploits over their career.
In fact, you can view this map and more about this case here: https://www.echosec.net/canadians-cocaine-echosec/
So what does the future hold for the modern private investigator?
The ability to scope out the conditions of a neighbourhood are great for a P.I. performing surveillance on the road.
For an e-investigator, geolocation opens up investigations by showing you posts occurring around an incident (say, a tree falling on a house or a car accident), thus letting your reach witnesses and evidence previously unknown!
But technology continues to improve and amaze.
The next frontier is a concept called “soft” or “fuzzy” geolocation.
Not every post will have perfect GPS coordinates to view an exact location. Although many social media platforms still use GPS locations, others have opted out for privacy reasons, while other websites feature a lot of location-specific information without any GPS.
The popular social news sharing site “Reddit” is a great example of this. While users gather into “subreddits” (Community-moderated online message board) to discuss events in cities like Toronto (www.reddit.com/r/toronto) or Vancouver (www.reddit.com/r/vancouver), a variety of questions are asked about the city, opinions given on restaurants, advice given on housing choices and areas.
One of the most impressive aspects of Echosec is the ability to pull information from a source like this (for example, that the subreddit is “Vancouver”-based) and connect that to a location and cross-reference that information against the contents of posts (ex. “Main and Hastings”, “West End”, “The Drive”), as well as more specific information, so a user can draw a box around a geographic area and understand, immediately, everything the world has to say about it; from the users on a social news sharing site like reddit to a travel blogger who once visited Main and Hastings in 2004.
When it comes to the ever-expanding world of online information, knowledge is most certainly power.
And with Echosec’s ability to filter, overlay content and separate the signal from the noise, it remains a powerful tool in the modern investigator’s kit.
Learn more here: https://www.echosec.net/what-is-reddit-why-care/
Kusic and Kusic Private Investigation is a modern PI firm using todays most innovative technology and top Investigators to continue to archive the best results for our clients
Jack Weatherell is the Director of Marketing at Kusic and Kusic Private Investigators. The opinions in this blog are solely of Kusic and Kusic Ltd
Posted in: surveillance