How big data can warn businesses of civil unrest in real time

unrest big data real time
Image credit: Joseph Chan | Unsplash

As geopolitical risks worldwide escalate, the key differentiator for cutting-edge risk management solutions is leveraging big data to generate real-time alerts.

When terrorist bombings rocked Sri Lanka in April 2019, the Dataminr alerted its clients 26 minutes before conventional news outlets. It also kept the information rolling with more than 200 updates as the attacks unfolded.

With its monitoring of social media and alternative data sources, the Dataminr platform sifted through the data landscape to identify and distribute the most relevant information to clients in real time.

For corporates with business operations and key people in the danger zone, the real-time alerts were critical intelligence. It helped them to frame their crisis management response to keep their assets safe.

In a globalized business world, corporates with international operations or those managing sophisticated cross-border supply chains need more immediate crisis communications. Geopolitical risks are also becoming more complex and often more dangerous.

According to the Aon 2019 Risk Map, more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa are at risk from strikes, riots and other types of civil unrest. A quarter of countries present the danger of sabotage and terrorist attacks.

The Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is now on heightened alert due to tension between Iran and the US. It is prompting an intense crisis management response from some of the world’s largest shipowners.

Japan’s NYK Group, one of the world’s largest shipping operators, opened a crisis management center in June. Its first task was to collect as much information as possible.

In previously-peaceful Hong Kong, intelligence solutions providers are pushing out a steady stream of alerts to their clients as protesters disrupt the transport system, the central business district, and close down the airport.

The disruption so far has created a market rout which, according to the Financial Times, has seen the wealth of Hong Kong’s ten wealthiest people fall by $15 billion so far this year. The damage to the territory’s status as a financial hub and its tourist industry are yet to be fully assessed.

Big data impact

Information has always been critical in risk management. But as the volume of data exploded, and communications became more instant, today’s solutions are moving into a new generation where real-time alerts are a differentiator.

Geopolitical risks that were once assessed on a historical basis are now, with new technology, analyzed in real-time. The information is also distributed as alerts as events occur.

The high speed and volume of data have shrunk down the timeframes for responding to crises. Real-time management allows corporates to minimize the impact both on operations and branding.

When stakeholders have access to the same crisis communications information at the same time, they can coordinate their responses and work as a team more effectively.

“We are seeing corporate resilience as a strategic enabler for businesses. This requires a better organizational alignment of awareness to threats, but crucially, an early warning across all functions,” said Tim Willis, director of corporate sales for Dataminr in the EMEA Region.

“The crucial thing from threat intelligence is ensuring you are able to access the right information for your security teams – both cyber and physical – because there should be a linkage between the two.”

Data “tripwires”

The new solutions collect information and data from satellites, aircraft, and drones while monitoring social media channels. They analyze the data stream using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation technologies.

For corporates to leverage these new solutions in their crisis management requires complex data analysis filtered by geography and industry.

At a recent Dataminr event, more than 61% of the senior executives in attendance said their teams were struggling to identify the most relevant data points on breaking incidents, as they sift through massive volumes of public data.

Dataminr’s Tom Willis said the emerging approach was to establish pre-determined “tripwires” around keywords or phrases. The technology platform can then identify and automatically push out information to users in real-time.

Corporates need to make sure “they ask the right questions” of the data so that the information it delivers is “actionable and relevant.” It helps build business resilience in the face of heightened geopolitical risks.

Written by Lachlan Colquhoun and first published at CDO Trends

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