07 December 2009

Crossroads: (Part Two) Learning From Intelligence-led Policing & Integrating Social Networking to Ensure Optimal Intelligence

I present this proposal because I believe our system of intelligence is the strongest in the world today, but believe also in the promise that our understanding of a shared mission can strengthen the methods of communication. Such a system of this nature and scope, I believe, offers a sustainable solution to comprehensively combating transnational terrorism.

III. Integrating Intelligence-led Policing and Social Networking
Ratcliffe describes this system as hierarchically similar to that of CompStat to the extent that both are top-down oriented.

Both the intelligence-led and CompStat models of policing are prime examples of organizations talking to themselves: each has flattened their hierarchy to promote “field decisions” and has successfully decreased the rate and severity of crime in geographical areas in being result-driven. As scholar Paul O’Connell recognized with CompStat, “Operational questions and concerns that typically required a flurry of memos from the field to headquarters, and back again, could now be addressed immediately via candid discussions between those at the top and the bottom of the organizational chart” (11-12). [7] As the processes stand presently, they work extremely well but only serve to create optimal information flow vertically within local and state-level organizations. Of greatest concern to this discussion, the aformentioned processes can be utilized to adequately share information horizontally across the intelligence community.

Ratcliffe's arguement seems to support the adoption of an intelligence-led policing model over CompStat, as he states;
"Intelligence-led policing however has a more holistic view of the analysis of the criminal environment, in that it aims to include information from a wider and richer range of sources in order to better understand the context of the crime patterns often seen in CompStat meetings. Intelligence-led policing also attempts to seek longer-lasting solutions to complex local and organized crime problems, and to be future oriented and strategically focused."[8]

Terrorism, and in particular transnational terrorism, can only be solved through the use of a matrix of relationships; simultaneously on multiple levels with various responsibilities. Federal agencies can benefit from the workings of both intelligence-led policing and CompStat by introducing social networking into the intelligence equation that is a) top-down, b) field-oriented, and c) proactive in nature. Such a model provides stronger opportunities for tactical measures while fulfilling strategic objectives.

IV. Combating Transnational Terrorism Through Social Networking
Systems theory argues that local, state, and federal entities need to work in concert to produce optimal results, in this case the prevention or weakening of terrorist leaders, cells, and lone-wolves. Biomimicry has further shown that “bubblenet intelligence" promotes teamwork. Thus, I propose a collaborative system of social networking that collects or “bubbles” information horizontally and reports or “sounds” information vertically to drive the flow of analysis in a timely and accurate manner.

Local, state, and federal intelligence agencies are capable of strengthening “fluid interactions” that establish an holistic-oriented network: “In situations such as these, efforts to improve the capabilities of a single organization that is part of a network are important, but equally important are efforts that focus on the overall ability of the network to provide [results] in a coordinated way” (Denhardt, 395).[9] Network efficiency amongst intelligence entities, then, can be measured according to two primary factors; namely, information diffusion network[ing] and problem-solving network[ing]. The purpose of utilizing these types of network structures is to a) “share information across governmental boundaries to anticipate and prepare for problems that involve a great deal of uncertainty” and b) to specifically “solve [the] proximate problem,” such as a terrorist plot (396).

The method that I propose in order to adequately institute this integrated network is the development and internal use of a database-stream similar to blogging and microblogging. In order to share information in a collaborative manner, agencies need to “collectively apply resources to problems that lack clear ownership” (Denhardt, 397). This can be done through wireless reporting so that information is accessible in real time for analysts and decision-makers.

The system can be thought of as a virtual CompStat version of intelligence-led policing. A blog-like framework can serve as a posting board for events happening on the ground in real time. Such operation promotes field-level intelligence through dialogue. In so doing, an officer or agent can "bubble" intelligence across barriers by posting the information to the database. Analysts and decision-makers can monitor the posts and assess the quality in order to make decisions vertically. This aspect of the process "sounds" information throughout the hierarchical structure.

A matrix of relationships is fostered through the use of a microblogging element. Agencies themselves, and members within agencies, can follow the "bubble streams" of one another as participants in the database. This collaborative effort of reporting will heighten partnership initiatives in order to strengthen the influence of constructive assessment of decision-makers, even the Executive Branch of the President of the United States. Not only will information be timely as mentioned above, but it will be accurate because it will be verified by numerous sources.

The unique element of the system is simply that all participants are given responsibility, even though each participant will work within the hierarchical structure according to their descriptive responsibilites. Moreover, each will be given clearance [within reason] to the tools in order to provide optimal flow, but decision-makers will granted higher levels of clearance to make holistic decisions. Of course, some agencies themselves will be able to provide more resources than others. This naturally defines who is putting more on the line, therefore, holding a larger piece of the responsibility.

V. Conclusion
Several questions of concern are inherent in this description of a social networking system of collaborative intelligence sharing. One, who will delegate responsibility; or stated otherwise, who will set the agenda? Also, who will control the flow of information; or stated otherwise, who will empower participants to create flow of information? I recognize that these issues of authority need to be assessed and structured in due time.

An intelligence network will procure three tenets that define the purpose of such collaboration. First, all participants will be held accountable as stakeholders, as responsibility will be equally shared by patrolman and supervisors, analysts and agents, and officers and investigators. Second, the data reported and used for briefings will not only be secure but will also be internally transparent for proper. Third, the recognition of successful and/or influential activity will be performance-based and/or results-oriented, as all are measured within the framework of systems theory and bubblenet feeding.

Ultimately, what I think can be learned from an intelligence-led policing model is "goal establishment." “Common practices [will] become the priority for every member of the [network]” (Denhardt, 398). I present this proposal because I believe our system is the strongest in the world today, but believe also in the promise that our understanding of a shared mission can strengthen the methods of communication. Such a system of this nature and scope, I believe, offers a sustainable solution to comprehensively combating transnational terrorism.
[7] O’Connell, P. (August 2001). Using Performance Data for Accountability: The New York City Police Department’s CompStat Model of Police Management. The Pricewaterhouse Coopers Endowment for The Business of Government.
[8] Ratcliffe, J. (Summer 2007). What is intelligence-led policing? From J Ratcliffe website: http://www.jratcliffe.net/research/ilp.htm.
[9] Aristigueta, M. & Denhardt, J. & Denhardt, R. (2009). Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations. (1st ed). Los Angeles: SAGE.

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