The process of designing intelligent software for intel analysts.

Previously in my career, I worked on a team that made applications for intelligence analysts in the Army and other military organizations. As a software designer, there was a lot to learn about the role that intel analysts play and the problems they encounter day-to-day.

In general, an intel analyst works like this:

  • Find a piece of information and form a hypothesis.
  • Search through other sources to verify the hypothesis.
  • Gather more supplemental data to support a conclusion.
  • Collect essential pieces into a digestible presentation.
  • Deliver to the folks who’ll take action.

This process will vary depending on the particular job, of course, but it can be boiled down further to three essential concepts: discover, analyze, and share. At Snaptrends, it’s my job to make this process as easy as I can.

Discover

Intel analysts are in a constant mode of discovery – finding pieces of a story, saving them away, and putting them back together later. The more credible sources to which the intel analyst has access, the better. On the web, there is a lot of social media data and numerous dots to be connected. A conspicuous post leads to a person, which leads to a network of people.

Discovery for social media means searching for and finding posts and the people behind them. But there are too many posts coming in daily, even hourly, so intel analysts need a tool to intelligently search for relevant posts by keyword, location, or by the individual poster.

I can help an Intel Analyst discover meaningful activity through social network analysis by creating intuitive visualizations and giving them the ability to dig into a person’s network of contacts.

snaptrends-intelligence-led-software-for-intel-analysts

Analyze

An intel analyst is ineffective if they come to poor conclusions or can’t back up their statements. Their ability to dig into their findings and expose the connections is key to their job.

Once an intel analyst has begun to collect posts, the culling process begins, where the analyst flags specific pieces of intelligence and builds out their case. A tweet posted from a specific location can help connect the dots between multiple people posting about the same event. Likewise, a comment can connect two people that were previously unrelated.

I can create an environment where analysis is unhindered – where connecting posts with specific locations and connections is easy to understand.

Share

The work of an intel analyst should lead to action. No matter the industry, presenting the conclusions to a boss or commander is the essential final step.

The ability to share found information is the cornerstone to solving a particular case or investigation. An intel analyst puts all of the pieces together into a coherent story.

I can make sharing easier, allowing for custom reporting and the ability to call out significant information. I can create easier ways to customize an exportable visualization of the collected data.

Understanding the role of an intel analyst is only the first step. I’m constantly working to improve the processes around social media searching and intelligence, making sure that the tools we build continue to have real-world benefits for our users.

 

 

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Chairman & CEO Snaptrends Co-founder, Chairman & CEO