Social media has been a game changer in the world of data analytics, according to Phil Harris, CEO and co-founder of five-year-old Geofeedia, a location-based social media monitoring, intelligence, and analysis company.

Geofeedia was created with the goal to develop a better way to organize social media while delivering actionable intelligence. Harris and co-founder Scott Mitchell sought out to create a platform that could analyze social media in a geospatial context and filter the “signals from the noise.” Prior to launching Geofeedia, Mitchell worked at NASA and also served as chief technology officer of a social media company. Harris was formerly senior vice president at priceline.com and is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

“It was really the perfect storm when we started the company,” said Mitchell, who is also the company’s chief technology officer. “Instagram boomed in 2010 and we started to see geo-tagged social media data, and by 2011 people were getting more comfortable using Twitter. At the time, we saw geographic information systems that couldn’t handle massive amounts of real-time data sets such as [those derived from] social media. We built the platform that could ingest that amount of data and make it instantly available to customers.”

Geofeedia’s services are used for corporate security and risk mitigation at large corporations, for situational awareness by government agencies, and to help sales and marketing companies discover trends and patterns. Additionally, major global news outlets such as BBC use Geofeedia to break stories. Geofeedia analyzes social media from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and many other popular social networks. It also collects data from Russia’s VK and China’s Sina Weibo social platforms.

The Geofeedia platform is very user-friendly, according to Harris and Mitchell. Customers can gather information about a desired location using keyword searches and a polygon tool on a global map provided by Microsoft Bing. Pins will appear on the map to show geo-tagged social media posts, and users can see social media posts streamed in real-time as well as view analysis. Geofeedia also has an advanced alerting capability that delivers intelligence from locations that matter to its customers.

“Our goal is to provide situational awareness based on social media conversations,” Harris said. “People announce intentions and record events on social media, whether it be a bystander during an act of terror against society or an act of workplace violence. We identify situations in real time and that’s really important for public safety and intelligence professionals. Intelligence professionals must be connected to real-time data streams such as social media because they can’t afford to wait for news outlets to break the story or to task a satellite to a location—social media data is available the moment it happens.”

This is apparent any time a major world event occurs.

“Anywhere there’s a global event, we detect something happened in real-time,” Mitchell said. “Following the Brussels bombings, for example, our platform detected multiple bombs at the airport well in advance of mainstream media. People are taking pictures and video, and citizen journalists are onsite documenting it with raw, untampered data in real time. We detect and alert our customers of events happening at places globally faster than the news media.”

Geofeedia now has 85 employees and more than 600 customers, and has gained $24 million in venture capital funding. Not only does the size of the organization continue to expand, but it also continues to advance technologically to make the Geofeedia platform even better at ingesting large amounts of incoming data. Looking ahead, Harris and Mitchell aim to add weather, traffic, and other data layers to the platform to bring more real-time information to their customers’ fingertips.

Photo Credit: Geofeedia

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Posted by Lindsay Tilton Mitchell

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