In all the time I have been in the online world, I have never come across an application that had my mind explode with its potential while scaring the living H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of me. As I watched the demo of EchoSec over my GoToMeeting connection with CEO Karl Swannie, all I could think was; this one is going to turn info sourcing on its ear.
It’s Not Spying
Some people who have seen this application in action will say “this is like the NSA! It’s Spying!!” OK, well if looking at you standing on the pitchers mound, at Fenway Park, from the nose bleed seats, on a clear and sunny day, is “spying” then, yes, EchoSec is guilty.
A spin off of GIS mapping software developers CloverPoint, EchoSec has managed to merry global mapping with Social Media feeds, to deliver location based posts and conversations from a variety of platforms. Simply put, you select an area on the map and EchoSec populates the map with all the Social Media posts that have happened, or are happening. As I watched EchoSec‘s CEO select an area of a large Canadian city, icons for Twitter, then Instagram, then FourSquare, then Flickr, all started to populate the selected area. Below the map were the posts themselves, ranging from the mundane to the shocking. No amount of surfing Social Media would ever get me the same number of feed views that I saw with simply a click and drag of the mouse.
All of what I was seeing was available to any user in public. All of it is accessible through a search or surf of any of the apps featured. All of it available to the map thanks to the location based services of the mobile device, laptop or computer, being turned on. No black hat hacking here. Just good old open data.
For all the time and money that companies spend on security and making sure that the public eyes do not get to see Oz behind the curtain, apparently none of that money was spent on educating their employees to leave their smart devices at the door. Want to see the inside of a surveillance room of a secure area? No problem. A security officer has obliged by posting a picture of one on Instagram. Want to see the inside of a Navy submarine? Sure! Seaman Bloggins has been kind enough to share a pic with his buddy on Twitter. Hey there Big Multi-National Corporation that has spent millions upon millions of dollars on ads, saying that bad things don’t happen on your work sites. Did you know that one of your employees just checked in on Foursquare, with his clean up crew, at a site where that very thing did happen? Yep. There’s a really great picture, too.
“We aren’t looking to throw a wrench into the lives of people or businesses. We are hoping to wake them up to concerns of Social Media that should be addressed, but are not”, says the CEO. “When you see the most checked in space, via Foursquare, on a sensitive Air Force base, is the Ammo Dump, then you know there is a problem.”
The Good to Follow
While there is no doubt about the “scary” side of this application, the positives for businesses and people is what stood out for me. Once companies and users get a grip on what and where they post, the real value comes shining through. The numbers and analytics on a Social Media campaign are one thing. Being able to focus on a specific City or neighbourhood and actually see the conversations and if your campaign is in them? Priceless. Looking to find the hot spot in a community? Select an area and find out where everyone is posting from their night out on the town. Thinking of starting a new local business? Select an area and find out what people are talking about or looking for. The potential of this application is endless.
Disrupt the Norm
EchoSec is a wake up call and launch pad, all at the same time. It will put evidence of a growing issue, in front of people who need to see it, and disrupt the complacent into paying attention and move to action. Traditional news media, alone, will need to take heed, because the news of what is happening in the world won’t be coming from them. It will be coming from the feeds on the EchoSec map.