Building a proactive intelligence management capability from scratch

By John Gillon, Industry Consultant, SAS

Police forces in emerging countries are moving away from paper-based investigative methods and embracing fully-automated intelligence management systems. These systems will help them coordinate departmental efforts and rapidly access relevant information. This push to automated solutions is important – agencies that appear incompetent in high-profile international cases, such as uncovering drugs rings or identifying terrorists, may prevent their country from being seen as a reliable place for business.

The most effective intelligence management systems provide a single, secure source of information and consistency of processes.

A catalyst for change

Conscious that crime rates and stability can negatively affect outside investment, politicians in these countries are pushing for intelligence management systems – and for digital technology in general.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has been an outspoken proponent of information and communications technology (ICT). In a speech to the International Association of Chief of Police, Kagame commended the police forces’ strides and encouraged them to continue in their efforts to create a modern technology infrastructure to help them meet global security challenges.

“We are all aware of the immense opportunities digital technology offers for development in general and policing in particular … it critical that police forces are connected internally and across the region, and set up the requisite infrastructure for gathering and sharing information,” said Kagame.

In Singapore, the committee recently appointed by the Deputy Prime Minister to look into the December 2013 Little India riot recommended that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) invest in technology to improve its communications, control and command capabilities. According to the report, the police on the ground were severely hampered by their inability to gather and share up-to-date information.

The committee called for technology that would allow officers to access real-time information from sources such as social media and video feeds from “closed-circuit cameras on the streets, SPF in-vehicle cameras or body-worn cameras on officers.

What is holding agencies back? Change

Every agency is at a different stage in their efforts to modernize. To reduce some of the anxiety about change and circumvent possible challenges, agencies should implement and introduce new functionality in a stage-by-stage process – modernizing as their requirements change. Examples of some of the issues that may be encountered along the way:

  • Process change. Current working practices are often aligned to existing systems rather than vice versa. And so there is a fear that new systems will require a radical change in processes.
  • System change. Many documents are still paper-based or the information is stored in proprietary databases. The challenge may seem easier to address for agencies that are entirely paper-based or reliant on simplistic computer systems. However, these forces often lack IT skills and, therefore, face a steep learning curve.
  • Operations change. Even when the information is already digital, it is likely to be in silos with little transparency of who is accessing the system and when. The balance of access and security is pivotal.

Choosing the right system

The most effective intelligence management systems provide a single, secure source of information and consistency of processes. There are many things to consider too. For instance: Sources, methodologies and the technology must be protected. Officers may be working with out-of-date computers. Or there may be regional infrastructure issues to cope with, such as non-existent or unreliable electricity.

Ultimately, automated solutions should:

  • Streamline data collection, and manage and process data so that it can be easily analysed.
  • Explore patterns in the data and push the results to the officers and agents.
  • Provide security and access controls ensuring the right people have the right data at the right time.
  • Enable agencies to develop intelligence and hold it against the totality of information available to them.
  • Allow the agency to grade intelligence materials and adopt best practices for protecting sources.

The final consideration when choosing an intelligence management system is choosing the right solution provider. Evaluate and choose the vender based on the answers to these three questions:

  1. Have they worked in complex environments before?
  2. Are they specialists in their field (for example, police work and IT)?
  3. Can they adapt their solution to your agency’s requirements?

Reap the rewards of a good choice

Implementing the right system can provide far-reaching benefits. Chief among them is the ability to reduce risk at a political and public security level. The right system will help you pinpoint the sources of crime, catch more perpetrators and possibly even prevent major international terrorist incidents. This will certainly enhance your agency’s credibility and help you become part of an international network of agencies that collaborates to solve global crimes.

There can be benefits within the agency too. It should be possible, for example, for information to be shared securely by multiple disciplines using the same set of core records – and also to measure performance levels.

However, it is ultimately in the ability to strengthen the overall resistance to global crime and terrorism that is the greatest benefit of these systems. As agencies start to reap the rewards of better management and enhanced sharing of their own intelligence, the latest automated intelligence management systems could become their most effective ally.


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Read More

The scale, complexity and changing nature of intelligence data can make it impossible to stay in front without the aid of technology to collect, process and analyze big data.

Read Managing the Intelligence Life Cycle to learn how this information can be quickly and safely shared with access based on a user's organizational responsibilities and need to know.

Three Answers You Need

The key to choosing the right intelligence management system is choosing the right solution provider. Evaluate and choose the vender based on the answers to these three questions:

  1. Have they worked in complex environments before?
  2. Are they specialists in their field (for example, police work and IT)?
  3. Can they adapt their solution to your agency’s requirements?

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