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The importance of open source intelligence to the military

Expert.ai Team - 14 March 2017

The volume of publicly available information is increasing exponentially and, consequently, the importance of open source intelligence to the military is also growing. Today’s public source information—not only classified information—can be extremely useful for anticipating threats to security and safety at the local, national and international level.

Intelligence analysts need to be able to obtain visibility, context and insight from different types of data and information such as news feeds, reports, webpages, wikis, blogs, forums and chats, social media, etc. to identify risks and opportunities relevant to military needs.

In general, analysts must be able to collect all of the information useful for military operations, both strategic and tactical, related to weapons, geolocation, foreign countries, adversary forces, civilian populations, military capabilities, etc.

A scenario for understanding the importance of open source intelligence to the military

Here is a common scenario that is typical of military operations.

Every day, at his desk, an OSINT and intelligence analyst creates the organization’s reports used to identify indicators and warning signs to support military intelligence. To do this, the analyst must rely on a variety of information sources (local newspapers, climate conditions, military reports, social communications between members of different groups, etc.). The value of open source intelligence is its ability to make use of all of the information available on the web, as well as in proprietary knowledge bases and institutional community sources. In analyzing this information, the analyst must manage a large amount of information and focus in on the areas of greatest interest before it’s too late.

Capturing what happened and what might happen

One key factor of successfully managing military intelligence is real-time analysis. Analysts must be able to identify not only the past risks (what already happened), but also what is currently happening, as well as future threats (what might happen). Naturally, the sooner you can capture these signals, the better.

Traditional applications – keyword- or statistics-based or those that apply matching algorithms – are quite limited in their ability to manage open source information. They cannot handle the complexity and diversity of this data, they cannot distinguish between the shades of meaning, and they cannot achieve a high level of performance for all phases of intelligence process. They just monitor and extract keywords, not events.

The importance of open source intelligence to the military becomes real and tangible if you use a software that reads like a person would, automatically extracting the information that is relevant for your analysis. Cogito is a software that can read and comprehend human information in content, categorize information and identify relationships between concepts. Cogito enhances the strategic value of both classified and unclassifed information.