This is the first article in a series about using intelligence for preparedness. I’m starting from square zero in order to introduce a new crop of Americans to the concept of using intelligence, to prove that there’s a need for intelligence, and to get readers quickly up to speed on how to incorporate it into their security planning. After getting caught up to speed, if you’d like to read more in-depth and put theory into practice, a book entitled SHTF Intelligence will show you the way forward. You can find a small homework exercise here.
The difference between information and intelligence is simple: information is raw data, and intelligence is the evaluated, assessed, and synthesized information that answers, “So what?” Hearing that there was a murder in your community is not intelligence; it’s just information. Identifying the perpetrator and his current location, finding out where and why the murder took place, determining how it’s going to affect the community, and compiling it into a consumable product is intelligence.
There are five phases and I’ll briefly detail them in order. In Phase One, we understand our mission, assign analytic tasks and responsibilities, and begin generating our intelligence requirements (covered in the next section). In Phase Two, we task those requirements out for collection. Once that information is collected and reported, we start with Phase Three, where we analyze the incoming information. After filtering out the bad information, and analyzing the good information, we produce the actual intelligence. We provide predictive intelligence — describing what might or is likely to happen in the future — or estimative intelligence — describing an organization’s strength and capabilities. Finally, once we produce the intelligence, we need to ensure that it gets into the hands of the right people. In Phase Five, we disseminate the intelligence to our leadership, our community security team, or the community at large.