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Building An Open-Source Intelligence Buyer’s Club

War on the Rocks: “The Ukraine conflict has blown open the door on how open-source information — broadly defined as publicly and commercially available data — can be a game-changer in war and peace. The broad array of unclassified tools now allows anyone to pore over satellite imagery, monitor tank convoys, listen to troops chatting over unsecured communication devices, watch ship movements, and determine the location of Russian oligarch-owned superyachts. Governments are still trying to catch up with the amount of data flowing in all directions across hundreds of platforms, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the current glossy appeal of open source, both democratic and authoritarian governments alike have struggled to collect, make sense of, and then provide relevant information to their end-users. Those in U.S. national security circles yearn for a technical solution — a database to sort and categorize this vast amount of data. The tech challenges are certainly complex, and the problems with data integrity and validation remain vexing and require real solutions to categorizing, verifying, and then sharing this information. But the United States’ decades-long romance with technological fixes to complex national security problems takes the wrong perspective. The government’s challenge with open source isn’t just a technical one; it’s a political science one. And once Washington asks the right questions, it can begin to solve the collective action problem that lies at the heart of the open-source intelligence question…”

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