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Efforts are made by global intelligence organizations to acquire new technologies. Intelligence agencies around the world should develop and purchase technologies, recruit and train employees and analysts that will collect and process information.

In the world of intelligence there is no vacuum – the amount, kind, range and potential of threats is expanding, according to John Edwards, Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) in the CIA. In order to respond to the gamut of threats the Agency must handle much more information, and faster.

To stay ahead of the enemy, the Agency should be able to use the information it has in order to draw operational insights. To reach this goal requires both technological knowledge and devoted manpower. The tasks facing the modern intelligence agency are the commonality of information, real-time information sensors, and real-time signature management. Alongside these, there should be a “tactic” and secured fusion of info, already in the field and not just in the Agency’s facilities. The demand to lower advanced abilities of information fusion to the field-level, is a result of the operational demand for high activity rate and quick response time for threats (as in a “ticking bomb”).    

The info which the intelligence agencies collect and analyze is unique in terms of its format and its visibility. The agencies must understand and analyze vast quantities of information that do not have a regular and easy structure (unstructured data). Agencies have various sources of information -”sensors” – each one of which gives a different kind of info, with its own format. Every piece of information is given a “grade” marking its reliability (not all information on “Itsik Cohen” is on the same person, and on the other hand – the enemy has an interest in spreading confusing and false information).

“The forms of information we make use of are probably some of the most complex in the world today”, says Edwards, and mistakes in data collection or analysis have immediate consequences on people’s lives and national security. The old methods of data collection, analysis and report cannot be used in response to the speed with which decision making is done in today’s dynamic environment. “the speed of intelligence is not only required and recommended, it is necessary”.     

Throughout history, intelligence agencies have collected vast amounts of info, and their main challenge was to analyse and use it for operational purposes (“connect the dots”). The agencies have dozens of years worth of experience in behavioral sciences in order to implement models and produce predictions regarding received info.

To answer these requirements, it is advisable to use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and machine learning. Agencies should employ high level analysts that could view information in pure logical form. Intelligence agencies should decide on shared standards regarding the information and how it is analyzed, so that an efficient and faster communication between agencies might take place. This will also contribute to the faster development of new technologies and abilities that could stand against the rising number of threats. It is important to keep an open mind and adopt more civilian technologies that could contribute to the agencies’ activity, despite the agencies’ natural tendency to resists technologies that weren’t developed “at home” – this is due to classification reasons, but just as much to ego.

In Israel, too, there are leading companies in the field. The intelligence industry in Israel is highly developed:  it provides ground-breaking technologies in the field of data collection and interception (sensors), in information management, investigation and inference. Only recently were we informed of the shutdown of the Fifth Dimension, a Big Data company that contributed, among other fields, to intelligence purposes. But despite this, other companies are flourishing – companies like Elbit, Verint, Elta, TA9, and more. The world leader in the field is the American Palanteer company.