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[Source: This article was published in globalnews.ca By Jessica Vomiero - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

Amid the frenzy of a cross-country RCMP manhunt for two young men who’ve been charged in one murder and are suspects in another double homicide a photo of an individual who looked like one of the suspects began circulating online.

Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, have been charged with the second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck and are suspects in the double homicide of Lucas Fowler and Chyna Deese. The two men are currently on the run and police have issued nationwide warrants for their arrest.

The search has focused on northern Manitoba, where the men were believed to have been sighted on Monday. The photo was sent to police on Thursday evening by civilians following an RCMP request that anyone with any information about the whereabouts of the suspects reports it to police.

It depicts a young man who strikingly resembles the photos police released of McLeod holding up a copy of the Winnipeg Sun paper featuring the two suspects on the front page.

RCMP say the man in the photo is not the suspect Kam McLeod. Experts say police always have to follow up on online rumours and pictures like this.
RCMP say the man in the photo is not the suspect Kam McLeod. Experts say police always have to follow up on online rumours and pictures like this.

Police eventually determined that the photo did not depict either of the suspects.

“It appears to be an instance where a photo was taken and then ended up unintentionally circulated on social media,” RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said at a press conference on Friday.

She also warned against sharing or creating rumours online.

“The spreading of false information in communities across Manitoba has created fear and panic,” she said.

While this particular photo did not show a suspect, the RCMP confirmed to Global News that their investigators follow up on “any and all tips” to determine their validity. Experts note that this mandate may force the RCMP to pull resources away from the primary investigation.

“They have to assign investigators to take a look at the information and then to follow up,” explained Kim Watt-Senner, who served as an RCMP officer for almost 20 years and is now a Fraser Lake, B.C., city councillor. “They physically have to send members out to try and either debunk or to corroborate that yes, this is, in fact, a bona fide lead.”

After seeing the photo, she noted that a trained eye would be able to see some distinct differences in the eyes and the facial structure, but “if a person wasn’t trained to look for certain things, I can see why the general public would think that was the suspect.”

She added that while she believes getting public input through digital channels is largely a good thing, it can also be negative.

“There’s a whole wave that happens after the information is shared on social media and the sharing of the posts and everything else, then it goes viral and it can go viral before the RCMP or the police have a chance to authenticate that information.”

While she knows through her experience as a Mountie that people are trying to help, “it can also impede the investigation, too.”

Near the beginning of the investigation, the RCMP appealed to the public for any information they had about Schmegelsky and McLeod, or the victims. Kenneth Gray, a retired FBI agent and lecturer at the University of New Haven, explained that the internet has also changed the way police respond when receiving public tips.

“Whenever you asked the public for assistance on a case and you start receiving tips, every one of those tips has to be examined to determine whether or not it is useful to solve whatever case you’re working on and that takes time,” said Gray.

“In this particular case with the photograph, it had to be examined to determine whether this was actually the suspect or whether it was just a lookalike that took vital resources that could have been being devoted to actually finding this guy.“ 

He explained that if he’d gone about verifying or debunking the photo himself, he’d attempt to determine where the information came from and trace that back to the person in the photo. He suggested performing an electronic search on the image to ultimately determine who is in the photograph.

In addition, the internet has added a new layer of complexity to screening public leads. With the advent of social media, “you get inundated with information that is coming from all over the place.”

“At one point, you would put out local information and you’d only get back local-type tips. But now, with the advent of the internet, tips can come in from all over the world. It casts such a large net that you get information from everywhere,” he said.

“That gives you a lot more noise.”

The model that most departments have pursued to deal with this, he said, is one that requires investigators to pursue all leads while setting priorities to determine which ones should be given the most resources.

While the widened reach that the internet affords can complicate things, some experts suggest that this isn’t always a negative thing.

Paul McKenna, the former director of the Ontario Provincial Police Academy and a former policing consultant for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, agrees.

“All leads are potentially useful for the police until they are proven otherwise,” he said in a statement. “Every lead may hold something of value and police always remind the public that even the most apparently inconsequential thing may turn out to have relevance.”

Social media has played a role in a number of high-profile arrests over the years, including that of Brock Turner, who in 2016 was convicted of four counts of felony sexual assault and allegedly took photos of the naked victim and posted them on social media, and Melvin Colon, a gang member who was arrested in New York after police were given access to his online posts.

In this particular case, Watt-Senner explained that a command centre would likely be set up close to where the RCMP are stationed in Manitoba. She said that all information will be choreographed out of that command centre, where a commander will decipher the leads that come through.

“Those commanders would be tasked and trained on how to obtain information, filter information, and disseminate information and to choreograph the investigative avenues of that information in real-time,” Watt-Senner said.

She notes that the RCMP would likely have used facial recognition software to determine for certain whether the man depicted in the photo was, in fact, the suspect, and the software would also be used as citizens began to report sightings of the suspects.

“This is really integral. This is a really important part of the investigation, especially when you start to get sightings from different areas. That information would be sent to people that are specifically trained in facial recognition.”

While the investigation may take longer because of the higher volume of leads being received through digital channels, all three experts conclude that the good that comes from social media outweighs the bad.

 

Categorized in Investigative Research

[Source: This article was published in techdirt.com By Julia Angwin, ProPublica - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dana W. Jimenez]

The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime.

But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today's standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed.

The graphic shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an "aunt," "Operational Case Jentzsch," presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places ("church"), and meetings ("by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary").

Gary Bruce, an associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the author of "The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi," helped me decode the graphic and other files. I was surprised at how crude the surveillance was. "Their main surveillance technology was mail, telephone, and informants," Bruce said.

Another file revealed a low-level surveillance operation called an IM-vorgang aimed at recruiting an unnamed target to become an informant. (The names of the targets were redacted; the names of the Stasi agents and informants were not.) In this case, the Stasi watched a rather boring high school student who lived with his mother and sister in a run-of-the-mill apartment. The Stasi obtained a report on him from the principal of his school and from a club where he was a member. But they didn't have much on him — I've seen Facebook profiles with far more information.

A third file documented a surveillance operation known as an OPK, for Operative Personenkontrolle, of a man who was writing oppositional poetry. The Stasi deployed three informants against him but did not steam open his mail or listen to his phone calls. The regime collapsed before the Stasi could do anything further.

I also obtained a file that contained an "observation report," in which Stasi agents recorded the movements of a forty-year-old man for two days — September 28 and 29, 1979. They watched him as he dropped off his laundry, loaded up his car with rolls of wallpaper, and drove a child in a car "obeying the speed limit," stopping for gas and delivering the wallpaper to an apartment building. The Stasi continued to follow the car as a woman drove the child back to Berlin.

The Stasi agent appears to have started following the target at 4:15 p.m. on a Friday evening. At 9:38 p.m., the target went into his apartment and turned out the lights. The agent stayed all night and handed over surveillance to another agent at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning. That agent appears to have followed the target until 10:00 p.m. From today's perspective, this seems like a lot of work for very little information.

And yet, the Stasi files are an important reminder of what a repressive regime can do with so little information.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in ibtimes.co.uk By Anthony Cuthbertson - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

A search engine more powerful than Google has been developed by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), capable of finding results within dark web networks such as Tor.

The Memex project was ostensibly developed for uncovering sex-trafficking rings, however the platform can be used by law enforcement agencies to uncover all kinds of illegal activity taking place on the dark web, leading to concerns surrounding internet privacy.

Thousands of sites that feature on dark web browsers like Tor and I2P can be scraped and indexed by Memex, as well as the millions of web pages ignored by popular search engines like Google and Bing on the so-called Deep Web.

The difference between the dark web and the deep web

The dark web is a section of the internet that requires specialist software tools to access, such as the Tor browser. Originally designed to protect privacy, it is often associated with illicit activities.

The deep web is a section of the open internet that is not indexed by search engines like Google - typically internal databases and forums within websites. It comprises around 95% of the internet.

Websites operating on the dark web, such as the former Silk Road black marketplace, purport to offer anonymity to their users through a form of encryption known as Onion Routing.

While users' identities and IP addresses will still not be revealed through Memex results, the use of an automated process to analyse content could uncover patterns and relationships that could potentially be used by law enforcement agencies to track and trace dark web users.

"We're envisioning a new paradigm for search that would tailor content, search results, and interface tools to individual users and specific subject areas, and not the other way round," said DARPA program manager Chris White.

"By inventing better methods for interacting with and sharing information, we want to improve search for everybody and individualise access to information. Ease of use for non-programmers is essential."

Memex achieves this by addressing the one-size-fits-all approach taken by mainstream search engines, which list results based on consumer advertising and ranking.

 us internet surveillance DARPA TOR Memex dark web

 Memex raises further concerns about internet surveillance US Web Home

'The most intense surveillance state the world has literally ever seen'

The search engine is initially being used by the US Department of Defence to fight human trafficking and DARPA has stated on its website that the project's objectives do not involve deanonymising the dark web.

The statement reads: "The program is specifically not interested in proposals for the following: attributing anonymous services, deanonymising or attributing identity to servers or IP addresses, or accessing information not intended to be publicly available."

Despite this, White has revealed that Memex has been used to improve estimates on the number of services there are operating on the dark web.

"The best estimates there are, at any given time, between 30,000 and 40,000 hidden service Onion sites that have content on them that one could index," White told 60 Minutes earlier this month.

Internet freedom advocates have raised concerns based on the fact that DARPA has revealed very few details about how Memex actually works, which partners are involved and what projects beyond combating human trafficking are underway.

"What does it tell about a person, a group of people, or a program, when they are secretive and operate in the shadows?" author Cassius Methyl said in a post to Anti Media. "Why would a body of people doing benevolent work have to do that?

"I think keeping up with projects underway by DARPA is of critical importance. This is where the most outrageous and powerful weapons of war are being developed.

"These technologies carry the potential for the most intense surveillance/ police state that the world has literally ever seen."

Categorized in Deep Web

[Source: This article was Published in lifewire.com By Tim Fisher - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Do research, check neighborhood safety, or report crimes using these sites

Find crime statistics, crime scene investigation information, police information, and more with these law enforcement search engines, sites, and communities. These websites are open to everyone, and the information they contain is free. 

 Family Watchdog: Sex Offender Registry

Family Watchdog Sex Offender Registry

What We Like

  • Sends free notifications when offenders move in or out of your area.

  • Also contains information on food and drug recalls.

  • Includes blog with entries on topics to keep your family safe.

What We Don't Like

  • Map legend needs clearer explanations of the icons.

  • You have to click on icons one at a time to pull up the offender's photo and information.

  • The site is ad heavy.

Family Watchdog provides a notification service. You register an account and are delighted to see that no sex offenders live in your neighborhood. However, that could change, and if it does, you'll receive an email or text message from Family Watchdog with information about the new neighbor. You can also opt to search the data base of offenders by state. 

What We Like

  • Includes registries for 50 states, D.C., five territories, and many Indian tribes.

  • The Education & Protection web page includes safety information for families.

  • No advertisements.

What We Don't Like

  • Each registry is maintained by its state, territory, or tribe.

  • Any requests for changes or additional information must go through the individual registry affected.

The National Sex Offender Registry from the U.S. Department of Justice is another free service you can use to identify registered sex offenders in your local area. Sex offender registries, a searchable database of sex offender information and statistics, and help for victims of sexual crimes are all available here. You can search by name, location, ZIP code, address, school, and daycare facility. This information is especially useful if you're planning a move and want to make sure that neighborhoods you are thinking of moving to are safe. 

FBI

FBI

What We Like

  • Features a Case of the Week each week.

  • Contains information on fugitives, terrorists, kidnapped and missing persons, and crime statistics.

  • Seeks names or information on unidentified persons shown in photos or sketches.

What We Don't Like

  • How and where to search for information is difficult to determine on this vast website.

  • Designed to seek help from the public, rather than to serve as a search engine.

An enormous amount of information is available on the FBI website, including lots of crime statistics and law enforcement information, reports and publications, a Top Ten Fugitive list, information on how to become an FBI agent. The site is home to a rotating set of featured stories regarding crime and law enforcement, crime statistics, victim assistance, warnings about current popular scams, criminal justice information services, and much more. This site is updated frequently, as FBI information tends to change often. 

Officer.com

Officercom

What We Like

  • Headlines and the forums are updated regularly.

  • A collection of current goings-on in the law enforcement communities.

What We Don't Like

  • Contains many advertisements.

  • The headlines link to stories on other sites. There is no original content.

  • Not useful as a search engine.

The Officer.com website is useful for law enforcement agency search, officer search, and crime sites search. Firearms information, tactical training, career information, and active forums are also available. Much of the information is aimed at police officers, but it is of potential interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the criminal justice system. 

 National Criminal Justice Reference Service

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

What We Like

  • Enormous collection of search topics relating to crime and law enforcement.

  • Hundreds of downloadable publications.

  • If you can't find an answer to a question on the site, you are encouraged to email it to a Specialist for an answer.

What We Don't Like

  • The site contains so much information, it is a little overwhelming.

  • No indication how long it takes for a live Specialist to respond to an emailed question.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service is a free, federally funded organization and website that provides justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development. Search through A-Z topics, learn about the courts, funding opportunities, and law enforcement. Many different organizations are represented here, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Juvenile Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

 FindLaw

FindLaw

What We Like

  • Searches yield the names of lawyers with a specified area of expertise in a specific location.

  • Frequent updates with articles on current topics.

  • Library of podcasts and blogs.

  • Legal forms for download.

What We Don't Like

  • FindLaw is predominantly a legal marketing firm.

  • Law firms pay to be listed in the FindLaw directory.

FindLaw is a legal directory on the web with consumer legal information, criminal law resources, and a ton more law enforcement topics. All sorts of legal topics, state law information, and help in finding a local attorney for any legal need you might have are also available here. If you have a bit of legal research that you'd like to do, this is also a useful site. It doesn't substitute for advice from a licensed attorney, but it's good for getting started. 

Department of Justice

Department of Justice

What We Like

  • Attractive, professional website.

  • Provides ways to find sales of seized properties, locate prison inmates, identify missing persons, and report crimes.

  • Updated regularly.

What We Don't Like

  • The website contains so much information, it is difficult to know where to look.

  • Lists job possibilities but doesn't give information on requirements needed to apply.

All sorts of interesting things are on the U.S. Department of Justice website including reporting a crime, finding a job, locating an inmate, finding help for crime victims, sales of seized property, even reporting waste and misconduct. Here are just a few of the topics you'll find at the Department of Justice: How to Combat Terrorism, Uphold Civil Rights & Liberties, End Violence Against Women, and much more. You can also sign up for email updates to keep track of the latest law and order news that affects the nation. The Department of Justice also has a presence on several of the major social media platforms.

SpotCrime

SpotCrime

What We Like

  • Displays icons for different types of crimes on an area map.

  • Sends text messages to registered users when new crimes occur in their areas.

  • Includes burglary, theft, identify theft, assault, and other types of crimes.

What We Don't Like

  • Information about an individual crime is limited to date, type of crime, and address.

  • Contains display ads.

  • User interface could use a makeover.

SpotCrime provides a map of crime hot spots for hundreds of different cities around the United States. Click on your state and find the city you're looking for or give the website permission to determine your location, and then read the map legend to figure out what kind of crimes are represented on the map. You're able to browse by state here, and you can submit crime information if you have it. 

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in breakingtravelnews.com - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jasper Solander]

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Categorized in How to

[This article is originally published in programs.online.utica.edu - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

For today's students, research methods are less about libraries and more about what can be found on laptops. A Pew Internet study reveals that 94 percent of teachers find students are most likely to use Google as their primary research tool and three-quarters of teachers witness students turning to Wikipedia for information.

The wealth of Internet information available is both a blessing and curse for student researchers. For every authoritative peer-reviewed journal, there are an equal amount of poorly developed, inaccurate content farms. The same Pew study also found that teacher’s estimate only 40 percent of students can accurately judge the quality of online research information as many are unaware of the benefits of utilizing advanced research techniques to navigate search engines and databases to find the best resources.

Quality Sources Are Everything

Students can find a multitude of websites offering information that may sound good but offer little in the way of legitimacy. The source of the information can help determine its accuracy, depth, and integrity. Wikipedia can be a useful starting point to gather general knowledge on a topic but it tends to go against the research principle of finding primary resources. As a melting pot of secondary information, Wikipedia runs the risk of providing errors.

Blogs can render mixed results of information; while some offer excellent insight and original research data, others are driven by the commercial interest of their associated organizations. For students seeking the best primary resources, consider information from peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, or reputable news publications. Scientific databases offer specialized information on research topics, which can make finding information easier but may also require students to look elsewhere to expand in an unbiased manner on topics.

Quality Resources to Launch Search Efforts

At the heart of academic-worthy resources, students will find the most accurate, comprehensive information. These resources focus on peer-reviewed studies and government-funded efforts while also seeking to bring public online access to published works found in brick-and-mortar libraries.

Library of Congress

The wealth of quality information offered by the Library of Congress is unparalleled. Its collection based in the nation’s capital provides thousands of resources online for students. The online Library of Congress is an excellent starting point to find book titles for specialized topics. Use the online librarian tool for extra guidance.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

This digital library centers on educational research. Use the Education Resources Information Center database’s advanced search tool to narrow down keywords, publication type, and education level to find educational literature from 1966 to the present.

PubMed

PubMed is provided by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It gives access to millions of full-text articles as well as abstracts by NIH-funded projects and other free content. Topics archived in PubMed focus on the biomedical field.

BioMed Central

Another excellent resource for peer-reviewed information on life sciences is BioMed Central. This publisher provides free access to all articles. Journals featured in BioMed Central are categorized to help researchers better determine the primary source of the information.

Scirus

Using a simplistic interface, Scirus is a research database offering advanced search options that enable resource arrangement by publication date, information type, file format, journal source, and subject matter. Scirus combs through half a billion online scientific resources to find scholarly articles and reports.

Using Google for Good

While it’s easy to find poor research at the top of Google’s search results, students can use a few techniques to weed out the bad and allow specialized, authoritative resources to rise to the top.

Employing Google search operators is like a keyboard shortcut to advanced search results:

  • ::  A tilde (~) in front of a word will render a search for common synonyms.
  • ::  An asterisk (*) enables Google to fill in the blank for an unknown, tip-of-the-tongue word.
  • ::  Quotation marks allow the search for an exact phrase, which can be convenient to find a study title.

Google Scholar operates like a database that pulls specialized literature from their main engine to provide bibliographical information and links to peer-reviewed research. The database also shows how frequently users have cited an article. The scholar does not guarantee access to articles on research topics that are subscription-based. However, Google Scholar conveniently offers advanced search options based on publication date and shows related articles to further enhance research.

Writing Resources:

Applying the APA writing style to your written assignments.

APA Style Guide Website     http://www.apastyle.org/
APA Style Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
6th Edition Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/whatsnew/index.htm

Useful Videos:

For students using Online Utica courses to expand their knowledge and increase their marketability in their chosen fields, effective research is a necessary building block for success. Let the credentialed instructors of Utica College’s Employer-trusted programs demonstrate how advanced research techniques can positively impact students’ futures.

Categorized in Search Techniques

[This article is originally published in digitalcommerce360.com written by Kelli Kemery - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jeremy Frink]

Early in the shopping journey, consumers tend to use search terms like “how” and “best.” As they narrow down their choices, they often use terms like “compare” and “advantage.” When their searches include words like “apply” and “buy” they are ready to purchase.

Imagine a scenario where you can use the search text to help identify a consumer’s mindset and use this knowledge to meet the consumer where they are in their decision journey. Visualize the complicated and fluid decision journey and know that with this prediction you can offer consumers exactly what they need.

To understand the consumer intent by looking at the psychological motivations behind search query language and help advertisers tailor their messages to meet their consumers in their journey, Microsoft partnered with Performics and Northwestern University, the creators of the Intent Scoring Algorithm. Their Intent Scoring Algorithm is designed to identify key consumer mindsets associated with a searcher’s phase in the journey by coding every search keyword in an advertiser’s account and using this to identify the consumer’s place in the journey.

Recent studies that show 74% of consumers frustrated with site content that is not relevant to them.

Search is personal

Today as the search continues to become increasingly pervasive, it is also becoming increasingly personal. In 2012, Pew Research conducted a study to understand people’s views on privacy. At that time, only 28% of the people said they would be OK with targeted ads or search engines keeping track of their searches to deliver better results. Five years later, a similar study was conducted to see how the perspectives have changed. The result—78% of people now say they are OK with personalized ads or search results. That is verified by comparing with other recent studies that show 74% of consumers frustrated with site content that is not relevant to them.

Bing Network research shows that 56% of consumers will purchase a brand again if that brand provides them with a personalized experience. And that number grows among younger consumers: About 66% of 25-34-year-olds will repurchase if they are provided with a personalized experience. As technology changes the manner consumers think about their purchases, it also changes the expectations of their experiences. Almost 65% of consumers report that they seek out brands that bring them joy and 51% are more engaged with brands that they have an emotional connection with.

Search is predictive

At the center of these predictive services are personal digital assistants like Cortana. Today, these digital assistants leverage the data they collect and aggregate through search, mail, maps, calendars and more. They try to predict what consumers want based on their behavioral patterns. They can tell you when to leave for an appointment given traffic conditions or remind you that you made a commitment to a colleague—without you set a reminder. They might even suggest to you gift ideas for an upcoming anniversary.

This predictive nature of search confirms that search is a behavioral insights machine that uncovers hidden consumer intent. Consumers are constantly signaling their intentions, and only those who know how to listen can pick up on those cues. Brands that uncover consumer intentions and motivations behind digital interactions can unlock the code of relevancy and personalization.

Uncovering intent through the language

The Intent Scoring Algorithm by Performics and Northwestern University uncovered that consumers’ mindsets shift as they approach or move away from goals like buying. Early in the journey, the consumers have an abstract, more exploratory mindset. As consumers move closer to a goal, their thinking becomes more concrete. They look for the price or location of purchase.  The algorithm found that advertisers could use language—the text in the search itself—to reveal and match the consumer mindset and intent, meeting the consumers where they are instead of where we want them to be.

When the consumer mindset is matched to the advertising text, consumers are more likely to click on the ad to explore the content. Consumers who used search terms like “how” and “best”—which are abstract—are more likely to click on an ad written using abstract language, than they are to click on an ad with concrete language. In addition to conducting abstract searches, consumers were more likely to click on educational content offered by third-party sites than brand or retail content.

Once shoppers have more clarity on what they are looking for, their search terms get slightly more concrete, like “best” or “top”, but they are still exploring.  When they use cues like “compare”, “pros”, “cons”, advantage”, they actually start comparing and evaluating themselves between different options and brands. This is the moment when they want to see specific benefits, reviews, and ratings.

Finally, when they are closest to action their thinking becomes more concrete. They turn to issues like price or location for purchase and use terms like “apply” and “buy”. This is when they need ease and efficiency the most.

Search at every stage of the journey

Today, search ads are still very focused on consumers that are ready to transact. Advertisers focus money and attention on the end of the journey, just before a consumer is ready to purchase. However, consumers turn to search at every point in their journey. And It takes both – search engine and the advertisers—working together to create a strong search experience for consumers.

Bing is the search engine owned and operated by Microsoft Corp.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published bmmagazine.co.uk - Contributed by Member: Robert Hensonw

The advancement of technology has given us so many ways of finding out what we need to do to sustain businesses of different kinds.

Regardless of the differences that are unique to each business, one thing remains important – knowing what your customer base wants, and then work on fulfilling their needs in order to survive the competition.

With the era of monopolies now gone, it makes it very essential to on market research. That is why the major companies in the world employ the services of marketing teams and spend millions of dollars annually in recruiting research firms. Here are some reasons why you need to spend that money on research.

To have a better idea of what you are going to do

This may sound generic as ever, but the thing is – it shows you the importance of conducting research in the first place. The worst mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is shooting in the dark – you simply waste your time and resources without anything to show for it. You may make mistakes along the way even if you have sufficient information, but it is better to be prepared.

Whatever decision you make for the business, it is important to do your homework. From sourcing for suppliers, getting potential clients, and even developing the range of your products and services. It can also help in clearing up any queries that you have while still providing you with sufficient first-hand strategy that helps in progressing the business, also known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).

It helps you to stay focused

Let us be honest here – marketing research and marketing, in general, is not an easy venture to get into, especially with all the multitasking that happens today. Even as a business owner, you might find yourself trying to focus on multiple projects, playing various roles within your organization, while still running the business and trying to help it succeed.

However, when you have done sufficient market research, it should inform you of what your consumers want. This helps you make a list of priorities you need to accomplish, which in turn helps you in managing your time as effectively as possible. It also gives you a guide on both the long and short term strategies you need to put in place, which helps you feel more organized, less frazzled and overwhelmed in the long-term.

Gives you better insight on your customers

Regardless of whether your business has been in the game for a long time or is starting out, target customers should always be a priority, as they are either potential or loyal customers. Good market research strategies will clear doubts you may have on the identification of these customers, including their gender, ages, locations, and so on.

The more analysis you do on their spending habits and products they frequently purchase, for instance, the better you can understand what makes them tick. This allows you to focus on manufacturing certain products or giving certain services in order to retain them as loyal customers.

Helps in understanding customer behavior

Aside from getting to know potentially loyal customers, you can use market research to find out some requirements of the customers. The improvement of technology has given us some useful advanced software tools such as Google Analytics, which assist you to understand the behavioral patterns of your customers. Oncetheir spending behavior is understood, you can then refine and customize various products for them.

These software tools can use the data in two forms. One is tracking the spending habits of the customer when they are online, which is a real-time analysis (it particularly works if you have an online shop), and the other is to check their past spending behavior to see if there are any patterns involved.

Helps in analyzing competitors

If you have ever read the book ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, it states that for you defeat your enemy in battle, it is important to know yourself and know them, and they will never defeat you. This statement is true; not just in war, but also in other aspects of life – especially when it comes to running a business.

Monopolies do not exist anymore in this day and age, so every business has fierce competition all around it. This should motivate you to do adequate research on the market as well as your competitors, and you may learn some strategies from them that can either push you ahead or reduce the growth of your competitors.

Even more important, it will help you to keep your growth consistent through the improvement of your services and products.

Gives you adequate information for selling and forecasting activities

The most important focus of sales forecasts is helping a business keep adequate inventory, an action which regulates the balance of demand and supply. The only way to find this out is through doing research. After doing a sales forecast you can then begin to plan for alternative goods you can sell, or find new methods of selling the goods. In addition, you may have consumer bases in other countries; market research allows you to find them and tailor make strategies for those areas.

Reduces losses and risk on a significant level

The best approach to use would be a contingency approach. At the back of your mind, you remember that the business may not do well due to factors that may be beyond your control, or others may be mistakes you will learn along the way.

Market research proves to be effective at reducing risks that you incur or the losses your business may suffer, as long as it has concrete findings to back it. It helps in avoiding mistakes such as poor pricing methods and poor marketing so that your business has a fighting chance of thriving.

Final thoughts

Making your business succeed in the face of increasing competition is not an easy thing, and that is why market research exists – to enable you to find weaknesses you should improve on. With these tips, investing in proper research is justified, and it will give your company great benefits.

Source: This article was Published bizcommunity.com - Contributed by Member: Jeremy Frink

The third Annual Western Cape Research Ethics Committees Colloquium was hosted by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Tuesday 11 September 2018

Here, the effectiveness of social media as a research tool and the implications of work conducted on these social media platforms were highlighted. 

According to Dr. Amiena Peck, from UWC’s Department of Linguistics, social media platforms have created many advantages of online research.

Guidelines, privacy, and cybersecurity

“Millions of South Africans use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, and more and more people join daily. This makes finding data more accessible, but it does offer challenges,” Peck said. 

“Unfortunately, there are no guidelines and no existing literature for guidelines when using social media for data collection, and there are several other challenges – such as privacy issues and cybersecurity.”

Professor Neil Myburgh, chair of UWC’s Biomedical Research Ethics Committee, said the issue of consent when using social media is often not spoken about – but this should change. “We have seen on Twitter where photos of children were shared in particular campaigns, bringing ethical issues to the surface,” he said. 

Myburgh noted that researchers need to consider all ethical issues when harvesting data from social media and strict ethical guidelines need to be established for social media use.

Proper ethical research methods

These kinds of reviews carried out by Research Ethics Committees allow a collective of multiskilled people to review a proposal and check its scientific veracity, as well as its ethical quality – a useful process. 

UWC rector and vice-chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius said ethics is close to the hearts of most researchers and professionals at universities.

“Colloquia such as these are important to ensure that proper ethical research methods are taught to our young researchers. We have seen what has been happening in the accounting profession, for example – the curriculum needs to be amended so that we can teach the softer skills to our young accountants,” he said.

The colloquium enabled fruitful engagement between people closely involved in ensuring both scientific and ethical quality in research, whilst contributing to better practices all around. 

Attendees included participants from research structures at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, the South African Medical Research Council and the Western Cape Department of Health.
 
Categorized in Research Methods

 Source: This article was Published Cordis.europa.eu - Contributed by Member: Jason bourne

The EU-funded KConnect project has developed an innovative online medical search and analysis tools, enabling researchers to achieve clearer insights into the effectiveness of specific medical interventions and ultimately leading to more optimized treatments.

“The key success of the KConnect project has been to make effective online medical search tools accessible to medical researchers and the public,” says KConnect (Khresmoi Multilingual Medical Text Analysis, Search and Machine Translation Connected in a Thriving Data-Value Chain) project coordinator Allan Hanbury from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria. “The project results will now be further developed and should allow better insight into the effectiveness of medical interventions, as well as providing more reliable access for citizens to online medical information.” Project partners are currently working with commercial clients to create specific search solutions.

Automated text analysis

The amount of written information that exists in the medical domain is phenomenal. This includes patient-specific information such as medical records, as well as non-patient-specific information including peer-reviewed articles in journals that describe the results of clinical trials of interventions. To evaluate the effectiveness of specific treatments and procedures, all this text needs to be taken into account.


“There is a clear need for computer-supported tools capable of analysing all this information, which can then lead to firm conclusions on the effectiveness of specific medical interventions,” says Hanbury. “Computer analysis of text remains a challenge though, and this is, even more, the case in the medical domain. This is because different styles of writing can be found across scientific papers and medical records, and there is extensive use of abbreviations and of course different languages in medical records.”

Accessible, reliable information

KConnect focused on two main challenges: improving medical text analysis, search and machine translation services; and demonstrating the effectiveness of using these tools in medical record analysis and online searches of medical publications and websites. The project was built, to a large extent, on the results of the EU-funded Khresmoi project, which developed tools to search for and analyse medical text and images. Khresmoi’s main focus was on visual searches for radiology images, as well as text analysis of medical publications.

Starting from this basis, new search tools were developed and tested, and are now being applied in real life situations. The medical record analysis and search algorithms have been included in the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system at the NHS Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre in the UK. CRIS provides authorized researchers with secure access to anonymised information extracted from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust electronic clinical records system. This enables them to look at real-life situations on a large scale, making it easier to see patterns and trends and to see which treatments work for some but not others.

KConnect tools are also being used by the Health on the Net Foundation, which promotes the dissemination of useful and reliable health information online. The Foundation’s new search system gives users an estimation of the readability and reliability of medical websites. A KConnect plug-in for the Chrome Browser has been released and provides users with estimates of the reliability of medical websites sourced using common search engines.

Hanbury notes that training the medical text-specific machine translation algorithms proved to be a challenge for certain languages where few relevant resources were available, such as Hungarian. Nonetheless, KConnect services now allow multilingual queries in the search engine of the Trip medical database, a tool that enables researchers to find high-quality clinical research evidence. A soon-to-be-released Trip tool using KConnect technology will allow for the rapid analysis of multiple medical publications related to a specific disease, giving researchers an immediate overview of the effectiveness of various medications and interventions.
 
Categorized in Search Engine
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