The World's Largest Simulation Conference: I/ITSEC 2018 on Twitter

The World's Largest Simulation Conference: I/ITSEC 2018 on Twitter

*Featured image courtesy of I/ITSEC media

A Look at I/ITSEC 2018 on Twitter

The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) is the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training conference. I/ITSEC, organized by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), consists of peer-reviewed paper presentations, tutorials, special events, professional workshops, a commercial exhibit hall, a serious games competition, and STEM events for teachers and secondary students. The 52nd anniversary conference was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida November 26 – November 29, 2018.
As the conference kicked into full gear at the Convention Center, a simultaneous event was also taking place online as attendees, exhibitors, and presenters live-tweeted updates on the show floor and in the tutorial and paper sessions.
This digital echo chamber of I/ITSEC conversations can provide insight in to what topics had the most impact within the community; especially helpful information as the I/ITSEC team begins planning for 2019.
Using Scraawl SocL (@Scraawl), we collected all tweets mentioning #IITSEC from Friday November 23rd through Monday December 3rd to capture conversations leading up to the event, during the event itself, and in the few days following. 4,360 total tweets were collected. The public report can be found here.
The timeline of activity clearly mirrors the rise and fall of event participation:

Day Activities Number of Tweets collected
Day 1
Monday November 26
Tutorials, Congressional session, and exhibit floor opens 815
Day 2
Tuesday November 27
Opening ceremonies, exhibit floor open, special events, and paper sessions 1,114
Day 3
Wednesday November 28
Exhibit floor open, special events, and paper sessions 1,010
Day 4
Thursday December 29
Exhibit floor open, special events, paper sessions, and the awards banquet 697

The tweets collected represent a landscape of interactions between different users and hashtags. The Social Graph below was constructed in Scraawl by connecting all the entities that interacted through mentions, retweets, and hashtag uses. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, Scraawl provides a host of statistics and analytics to help us make sense of the data.
First, let’s take a look at the event as a whole. The international impact of I/ITSEC is reflected in Scraawl’s map of the 492 geo-referenced tweets (the locations referenced in the body of a tweet).
Scraawl SocL’s Basic Statistics provide a summary of top users, top words, top hashtags, top mentions, top URLs, top Retweets, and top languages. This year @avtrngeditor, #iitsec, booth, big defense company CAE and publication MS&T Magazine top the charts.
I/ITSEC has an expansive scope in both topic depth and breadth, so it’s easier to look at the data in segments to gain a better understanding of the trends in the Twitter conversations. We divided the dataset into four separate reports to look at the conversations from each day separately.

Top Lists

The Top Users rankings shift from day to day, but we see a clear popularity of media entities like @avtrngeditor, @miltech1, and @mst_magazine. The big defense contractor @cae_defence and defense association @ndiatoday also have a clear presence. By the last day, I/ITSEC attendee @saeschatz cut her way through the news and marketing chatter.


The Top Words remain relatively constant throughout the week, clearly showing that I/ITSEC conversations are in line with the conference themes of training, simulation, learning, and technology.
Top Hashtags show quite a bit more variability as companies promote products for various platforms and their Tweets get retweeted by the community.

  • @Boeingdefense’s use of #boeingglobalservices takes hold with over 70 retweets
  • @RaytheonCyber and @NetSimEm both talk up the future of #cyber
  • Virtual reality #VR was a hot topic at I/ITSEC and a number of companies tweeted about their work in the area.

Top Mentions in past years were mostly dominated by defense contractors (@boeingdefense, @cae_defence, @lockheedmartin) but this year news media (@avtrngeditor, @mst_magazine, @monchpublishing, @shepardnews) were just as likely to make an appearance. In fact, by the end of the conference @mst_magazine was right below @cae_defence, which was second place only to @iitsec.

I/ITSEC Imagery

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words – maybe that’s why so many people include images to supplement their 140-character Tweets. The Media Gallery in Scraawl’s Advanced Analytics provides a visual summary of the trends at I/ITSEC.

  • Monday’s top image was an image of the @Perspecta booth retweeted by­ @Manudepp
  • PMIC Incorporated @PMICUS dominated the media gallery on Tuesday, tweeting out the top four most popular images for the day.
  • Wednesday’s top image is an image originally posted in Shepard Media of Boeing’s new T-X GBTS plane model.
  • Thursday’s top image was a big thank you photo from @boeingdefense.

Communities within I/ITSEC

As conversations take place, some users interact with other users more, forming groups of sub-interactions that become a community within the larger conversation. Scraawl makes it easy to examine these communities.
On Monday (and in fact every day) the largest community was defined primarily by the use of the conference hashtag (#iitsec) and mentions of @iitsec. Other communities emerged as well including:

  • Profiles @ximenatrade, @acada_atlantic, @modesttree had engagements around the potential use of #VRtraining in #healthcare

On the last day, a community emerged reflecting on the experience of I/ITSEC and the wonderful people with whom they connected.

Top influential users at I/ITSEC

When analyzing social media conversations, it is important to not only consider the number of tweets a user has (as reflected in the Top User list) but also the user’s connections to other users and hashtags through mentions and retweets.  Together these factors impact the user’s influence in the overall conversation. Throughout the four days, @iitsec held the spot for top influencer with its live conference updates and the many retweets from attendees. @Raytheoncyber was in first place on Monday but then next day lost their spot to @boeingdefense, and remained in third place all week. On Wednesday @boeingdefense had ceded its second place spot to @northtropgrumman. On Thursday @boeingdefense moved up in the rank again to second with their promotional tweets and huge follower base who retweeted and mentioned them throughout the conference.

Monday Tuesday
Wednesday Thursday

Hot Topics at I/ITSEC

Scraawl’s Topic Modeling analytic uses a probabilistic model to discover patterns of word use within and across tweets, and then uses this to infer abstract concepts of discussion.

Day Topics  
Monday Opening of the exhibit floor prompts conversations about exhibitor booths highlighting various training and simulation solutions.
Tuesday Discussion of innovative training solutions being displayed at I/ITSEC booths.
Clear anticipation of CAE’s hospitality reception.
Wednesday Exhibitor booths are the main topic of discussion, but @DogHeadSims breaks through with its fun tweet on their VR solution.
Thursday Lots of general discussion as I/ITSEC winds down, but tweets about training were still abuzz with VR solutions despite the wrapping up of events.

Analysis of the conversations on Twitter helped us to not only understand WHAT people were talking about at I/ITSEC, but also WHO was talking and having the greatest influence on the rest of the community.
Explore the public report yourself to dig deeper. Use Scraawl’s powerful analytics to analyze your organization’s presence and influence, understand the conversations, trends, and sentiment around a topic, and more!­

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