OSINT for States
Washington, DC. Dec 15th, 2005 ---- A number of States and Cities have asked if they should be looking at developing an OSINT capability themselves. The answer is of course "Absolutely", in fact you should have had one for years. Many probably do have the components already working, but spread around the many departments involved.
The world is in a rapid state of flux and to keep up with change, in fact to be ahead of change whole new paradigms need to be in place. For example States need to monitor the political wind in both Beijing and Washington, DC. Either, or both can pull the rug from under the State, by destroying the revenue infrastructure. How many States are feeling the effects of economic competition from China, and increasing Unfunded Mandates from Washington. How many States predicted that the Federal government would grab their National Guard and send them off to invade Iraq. The States were not being invaded yet thousands of their workers were snatched from their jobs and pressed into regular military service. Was there a plan to manage this change, or have the State Legislatures just sat back and watched businesses close because of both Beijing and Washington.
OSINT isn't about espionage, it's about understanding the political, economic, technical and environmental information around us, and how that will interact with our plans and strategies.
How will the coming of age of the "Baby Boomers" affect your State, County or City? Is illegal immigration worse than you thought, or planned for in your budget for services. Will the key "Baby Boomers" leave the "Rust Belt" in droves if they inherit the wealth of their aging and dying parents. How will this impact States in the Rust Belt and Sunshine Belt. Everyone can't live on the Beach in Florida. Will companies decide to relocate to Southern States, and what information could you present to discourage their move?
Same with moving that Call Center to India. Do you know the downside to present your side of the case, and keep hundreds of jobs, and the tax base. Or do the State Representatives just sit back in those beautiful padded leather chairs and stare at the carved paneling and complain, planning their next lucrative reelection campaign.
What can your Economic Planning offices, if they exist, give as real economic intelligence to help the local companies prosper, and expand the employment and tax base. Or are they just plum jobs for fast talking salesmen who just want to strut around feeling important. Every State, and major municipality should be feeding economic intelligence to companies in their area. It's out there in the OSINT world, just waiting to be found and used. The same with Chambers of Commerce.
The key words here are that relevant OSINT is out there, but often hidden under a thick carpet of noise, and these days misinformation. Washington, DC sadly is probably the world leader in political misinformation, and now they even pay to misinform the public. Put another way they are using taxpayer money to pull the wool over the eyes of the taxpayer.
In the years ahead the race for economic prosperity will become more intense and cut throat. It will be survival of the fittest, and smartest and there are no guarantees. Consider Washington State without Boeing and MicroSoft. Unthinkable?
New Jersey is starting to realize that it is far too expensive for industry to be located within the State. When will the mass exodus begin, and to where, and what can be done to stop it. There is enough media on the negatives of doing business in the State to paper over the congested toll-crazy Turnpike.
But what about the Environment? How will Kyoto affect business, and how will the US belligerent posture affect exports. The list for OSINT goes on and on, from crime and immigration, to new markets, medical breakthroughs, technologies and devastating political storms. Forewarned is forearmed.
And even for transportation infrastructure. What are neighboring States doing, and how will it affect your State infrastructure. With the debt load of the Bush Administration not recognized by the average American where will the money come from in the years ahead. What happens when China needs to be paid back for the $1 Trillion borrowed to support Bush. What programs will the leader du jour dump in the laps of States.
Much of this is already being done piecemeal, duplicated and managed inefficiently. OSINT brings these information resources together in a unified transparent intelligent infrastructure to enable an effective decision support system.
For example we have computers tracking a whole range of Intelligence subjects at ComLinks. We do not have to duplicate systems each time we want new information on tourism, or the War in Iraq. We just use the same specialized software and load a new keyword dictionary. A mini "Echelon" for the Internet. But the time it takes for our systems to vacuum up data and update the files on say Tourism Intelligence is so short the systems would be idle for hours. So it moves onto the next keyword dictionary, and so on during a 24 hour period. In a State environment it makes sense to have a specialized OSINT department to collect information, and use other experts to turn that information into knowledge. It could save the State Billions of Dollars, and perhaps it's future.
Then again you could believe what the Washington News Bureaus report and your local newspaper prints........That was a joke, by the way!