Most of the Syrian Program products and services in the Observatory for Political and Economic Networks that seek to understand complex systems are based on building network knowledge bases (knowledge graphs) from published sources. In general, the construction process is carried out in three stages:
We rely on many sources for building network knowledge bases. The process of data collection is done both manually and automatically, and then stored after primary processing.
The Fact-Checking process consists of five stages:
Each data source has its own level of reliability in terms of providing valid information; we embed that reliability in each relationship added to our network knowledge base using a “confidence weight index” score ranging from 0–100%.
For example: An ownership connection between a company and an individual that we find on that company’s official website or using documents from the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection would be added to our network knowledge base with a confidence weight score of 100%. The same connection found on an unverified Facebook page would be mentioned in our database, but would be tagged with only a 20% confidence weight score and would be monitored for any indications of validation or discrediting. In this way the information is never lost, and we work constantly to verify it, but any user of the interactive review tool in the network knowledge base can query for results with a high confidence weight and never see the least reliable data.
We rely on sources such as death records and leaked data search engines to monitor kinship and intermarriage, as well as personal photos on social media and public photos in magazines to infer friendships and other forms of affection or cultural ties (especially on holidays and other special occasions). We also use open-source intelligence technologies (OSINT) to collect additional data. We did not stop at the geographical framework within the borders of Syria, as we extend our monitoring of relations of all kinds to include both the Arab region and the world.
Knowledge is cumulative. Network knowledge bases deal with accumulation by defining a logical data model describing entities and the relationships between them, then linking and storing them in Graph Databases (which are different from Relational Databases).
We designed the following Logical Data Model to meet the needs of the Observatory for Political and Economic Networks (Syria Program):
By linking this model to online databases, it allows us to:
Based on the questions raised by our partners, we determine the data boundaries and incorporate the ties between various data points. We then propose the appropriate analytical approach and the ultimate product or service.