Revolutionary Technology Would Scour Public Data and Social Media to Predict Major Population Shifts and Events

MALIBU, Calif., September 26, 2012—HRL Laboratories, LLC, is leading a team of university experts to develop an automated technology that draws and fuses data from social media and other publically available sources to anticipate major societal events in the Open Source Indicators (OSI) program, sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

The revolutionary technology could provide major advantages in predicting societal trends and developments—from economic crises, social uprisings and political shifts to disease outbreaks. It will assist intelligence analysts in monitoring enormous amounts of data to focus on potential areas of interest.

The effort builds on the work of a world-class team of university partners and HRL’s novel Spectral Early Warning Signal (Spectral EWS) theory, developed by Drs. Hankyu Moon and Tsai-Ching Lu. The theory derives indicators of large-scale population-level behavior changes that often emerge prior to significant societal events, where the indicators signal growing social instability.

“The quantity and instant availability of Internet-based information, including social media, pose both challenges and opportunities in automatically and autonomously connecting and interpreting trends in data from multiple types and sources,” said HRL research scientist and program manager Dr. David Allen. “We will design our system to deliver accurate automated early warnings of significant population events with key parameters such as event type, target population, location and time.”


HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California ( is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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