Phase Two of the Intelligence Cycle

So we have our list of Intelligence Requirements – great. Now it’s time to look for answers to these questions – gather information – so that we can analyze it and produce intelligence.

Although there are many intelligence disciplines, there are just four we’re going to work with for community security. They are:

  • Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT)
  • Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

As you read each Intelligence Requirement ask yourself, “What’s the most efficient way to answer this requirement?” In other words, who is likely to know this information, or where can you find it?

ASSIGNMENT: Pull out your list of Intelligence Requirements that you completed in the previous lesson. Use the tools below to help you satisfy (answer) them.


OSINT: Google Alerts

Google Alerts (google.com/alerts) will email you a daily list of whatever you tell it to search. Whenever a new blog or news article is posted that matches my query, Google will send an me email.

I used the search term (“Travis County” and “gangs”), which will return the news items in the photo (below).

Lots of people dislike Google and that’s okay. I use their tools for automating tasks like this, especially about my area, because they work. I have alerts for “Travis County” and crime, drugs, gangs, corruption, sheriff’s office, and similar search terms. I can spend five minutes a day scrolling through these emails looking for important pieces of information. It’s WAY faster than searching these things separately.

If you’d like to use Google Alerts, just head over to http://google.com/alerts, enter your search query and your email address to create an alert.


OSINT: Open Secrets

OpenSecrets.org is a great website for looking up campaign contributions. With a person’s name and location, I might be able to identify their political ideology based on previous donations. It’s not a surefire method, however, I’ve been able to identify neighbors who are ideologically a lot like me. And then I meet these people and begin to build relationships in my community.

Use the ‘Donor Lookup’ tool on this website to search the names of those in your community.


OSINT: City Data

City-Data.com is also a great site for local information.

Here’s a snapshot of median household income for Austin, TX. You can look up dozens of different factors for your neighborhood at this website.


Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

Not all of our Intelligence Requirements can be satisfied by information found online. Sometimes we going to have to get out and talk to people – or gather Human Intelligence (HUMINT).

Don’t worry about the concepts of ‘espionage’ or ‘spying’ – we’re just talking to human beings. Chances are good that friends of family members know the information we’re looking for, or they know someone who knows. Chances are also good that you already do these things without calling it intelligence gathering.


Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)

For Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), maps are indispensable. I recommend having the following on hand:

  • Topographical map (from USGS.gov or MyTopo.com)
  • Imagery map (from Google Earth or similar software)
  • Street map (from Google Maps or similar software)

I routinely use GoogleEarth (https://www.google.com/earth/). As far as access to digital IMINT goes, it’s hands down your best option.


Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) allows us to collection information from radio frequencies. Tools like police scanners are great for providing us inside information on what’s going on, whether it’s down the street or across town.

There are some SIGINT tools that I recommend:

  • Uniden Home Patrol II (REVIEW)
  • Uniden BC75XLT
  • Software Defined Radio

Other Collection Info

Last year I wrote an Ultimate ACE Startup Guide. It’s worth a read if you want to start your own intelligence element for community security or disaster preparedness.


NEXT STEPS: This is a brief tutorial on collection. There is much, much more to learn about intelligence gathering. For now, let’s move on to Phase Three of the Intelligence Cycle.


Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

4 Comments

  1. How do you Craft meaningful Google alerts? So you can narrow the general down to the specific? For too much meaningless information to the stuff that matters?

  2. What is the correct ratio of Signal monitors to frequencies listened to? What is a sustainable monitoring shift? It seems to me that three 8 hr shifts is more sustainable than two 12 hr shifts?

    If a signal is encrypted what is the critical metadata a collector can gain from the message even though the content is not understandable?

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