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Data Acquisition and Preparation for Social Network Analysis Based on Email: Lessons Learned

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Technical memo.

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In sharing information to improve situational awareness, other government departments and remotely situated outposts may vary in their reporting of information. A social network analysis was initiated within the Department of National Defence to show where informal communication may be significant to information sharing. The study was undertaken circa Q32006 by the Experimentation Operational Research Team at the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre for the Command and Sense Team. Analytical results are not available,as the undertaking was not completed. This report describes the lessons learned in planning the data collection and preparation for the social network analysis. The work was done under project Polar Guardian, the goal of which was to assess situational awareness in the arctic. The plan for the social network analysis included an initial email-based phase and a follow-up survey-based phase. This report focuses on the email phase it is not a comparison of the two phases as separate approaches. Due to the short time frame for conducting the trial on the social network analysis approach, in-house methods for data acquisition and analysis were explored. The main challenges in this approach arise from generating the communications data from email tracking logs in isolation from other information gathering and information providing parts of a corporate computer network. Commercial tools were investigated, and warrant further examination. Their use requires a longer time frame for approval and installation on the Defence Wide Area Network. Of the commercial and home-grown approaches, the most time is likely needed for solutions involving access to the servers, and deployment of applications on them. Direct access to subject matter expertise in email administration is essential to arriving at a means for effective and timely data gathering and preparation.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Telemetry

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