Data in Security Operations: Data Collection

As we look beyond the basic understanding of operational and strategic intelligence, we must go deeper into the framework of a good data management program. Keeping in mind that data in simplest terms is just information you seek to exploit, the first step is to analyze what data you are collecting. From there you can determine if you need to expand your collection of information or narrow the focus.

Most security organizations collect data through incident reports and dispatch activity reports. These reports can be collected through simple paper forms, or through computerized systems like Omnigo, Resolver and others. The best results come from computer reporting systems that allow you to build out more accurate data collection, and provide an easier methodology for querying the information you have stored. Paper reports can make that job extremely cumbersome.

Once you have identified a method of collecting data, then you must determine if you are collecting the right data. Clearly defining the type of reports you want to be filed by your officers, utilizing commonly understood definitions for those terms, and identifying quality control methods is critical to success. Using a broad term like Medical Assist does not allow you to refine the information provided well, but systems like Omnigo allow you to sub-categorize so that you can gather more detail. For example, a medical assist might be a good catch all to articulate every event where officers are called to assist clinical staff, but knowing they are called to ten medical assists that can be defined further as five combative patients, three restraint assists, and two stand by calls gives you even more. Then consider mapping that information out over time and by location. Can you determine what units those events happened on, or what time of day or week? All this information is relevant to gaining deeper insight into your operational environment through operational and strategic intelligence processes.

The more data you collect, correlate, and query, the deeper the insight – if the data is accurate and complete. Consider the maxim ‘garbage in, garbage out’.  Simply put, this means that if your officers are filing garbage reports, then your data program will be producing garbage data. Reporting writing and dispatch data collection is critical to success. No matter how good your collection model is, if you do not spend time training and refining your officer’s reporting skills then you are wasting your opportunity to gain insight, or worse you steer your program in the wrong direction all together.

What kind of system do you use for data collection? How do you categorize information collection to produce meaningful results? How much time do you put into report training for your staff? Join the conversation in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, follow and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.

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