Open Source Intelligence Applications and Advances
The US government was one of the first to really start using open intelligence techniques, and they continue to do so. From tracking potential suspects without violating their (official) privacy to keeping closer tabs on the public attitude on politics, the government is increasingly online and doing research. While individual departments tend to have their own data gathering specialists, the Federal Research Division specializes in open source research services for governmental purposes. All the same, the government has also been criticized for not using open source intelligence enough—especially in one of its more critical applications, national security.
The US government is also making an effort to become more transparent—a term often referred to as open government. Budgets, proposals, amendments, everything is being placed online for everyone to see. This only increases the pool of information available for open source intelligence gathering.
Journalists have been using open source intelligence techniques for as long as there have been newspapers, combing through whatever information they can get their hands on to glean insights into the doings of the world. With the Internet, both comparing their findings to other journalists—and contrasting often opposing views—makes for a more dynamic, more competitive dialogue.
There are numerous businesses worldwide that specialize in open source intelligence, from gathering the data in the first place to analyzing it in detail. They are often used by other businesses who wish to outsource this process to another company, for purposes of creating better products for their customers by everything from analyzing feedback on their Facebook statuses to checking out forums.
Academia, too, has uses for open source intelligence. Open science has tremendous potential to accelerate research to previously unknown levels as everything from academic journals to basic chemistry lab results is put on the Internet and made public for everyone to see—and analyze. Even information gleaned through social networking has a place here, especially in the field of psychology where personalities and how they express themselves may be analyzed through an array of techniques. Another example, NASA routinely posts its latest astronomy pictures online with both the intent of sparking public interest and scientific inquiry.
At current, it's a safe bet that many of the products and pieces of news that you see around you on a daily basis are products of open source intelligence. Clearly, this is a concept that is at home in the digital age, and one that will doubtless prove infinitely useful as mass data techniques become more sophisticated.
For more information on open source intelligence, check out this article.