“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu
As we continue our discussions on data, the next logical discussion must be on intelligence. Intelligence, in security operations, is a two-fold concept; 1) it is a reference to our ability to collect applicable information, and 2) it is a reference to our ability to apply that information in meaningful ways. Ultimately, the term intelligence summarizes our full capacity to collect and apply data. That data, or information, can take many forms, but it is our ability to analyze it and apply it that makes the information intelligence.
The term operational intelligence refers to intelligence that is collected, analyzed, and applied in near real time. Operational intelligence is information that in processed and acted upon with near immediate or short-term effects. One excellent example of operational intelligence is the ever common be on the lookout (BOLO) alert. This is an intelligence document that shares information immediately, to a wide audience, with the intent of producing a near immediate impact. Another example is the identification of a high-level violence risk patient, and the subsequent dissemination of information to all patrol officers for the incorporation of that patient’s room as a part of regular high-risk patient rounding. In either case, we are taking information that was collected by one officer and processing that information to a larger audience to better prepare them for their operations in as near real time as we can make it.
Another application of operational intelligence is the ability to collect multiple data points and apply them in a meaningful way is as near real time as possible. For example, multiple patrol officers producing multiple reports on missing or stolen property across two or three days my indicate a thief in operation within a specific area. Being able to adjust your operations to interdict this type of activity based on the collection and synthesis of information from multiple sources, all within the span of a few days, demonstrates an excellent application of true operational intelligence.
Operational intelligence is the life blood of the “strategic officer”, and it equips a security program to be far more critically capable that it could otherwise be. Equipping officers to be able to collect and analyze information can transform your capabilities, but to be able to apply what you learn quickly can set a new benchmark for achievement in the prevention of criminal activity and the suppression of violence.
How do you collect and process information? Does your organization have an operational intelligence capability? How has operational intelligence been applied effectively in your experience? Join the conversation in the comments below, and do not for get to like, follow, and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.