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5 Essential Watch Floor Tools for Your Intelligence Operations


Analysts are overloaded with data in an intelligence landscape that demands open-source content. An effective watch floor toolkit helps analysts gather, analyze, and share insights from this data more efficiently.

Bottom Line:

Operations centers require software solutions for open-source intelligence (OSINT), managed attribution, data analysis, critical event management, and information management and sharing.



Full Article:

In the public sector, analysts must generate timely, accurate intelligence to assess risk and observe state and non-state actors. But data overload and an evolving information environment are making this task easier said than done.

As analysts struggle to separate noise from actionable data, they’re likely sacrificing speed-to-information. They may also overlook relevant insights, creating information gaps that cause incomplete intelligence and poor decision-making. In the real world, this could jeopardize people, assets, and national security.


According to CSIS, technology integrations are central to addressing these challenges for modern intelligence operations. An effective operations center starts with an effective toolkit. This means covering all the data sources and functionality required to meet mission requirements.

What software does your operations center need for effective intelligence gathering? Here are five essential watch floor tools to equip your analysts.

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5 Essential Watch Floor Tools

1. Open-source Intelligence (OSINT)

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, about 80% of agency intelligence reports are based on unclassified open sources. Intelligence toolkits now rely heavily on open-source intelligence (OSINT) software designed to gather public information, largely from online sources. 

There are a variety of free OSINT tools available—like TinEye for reverse image search, or have i been pwned? for breached data. While these can be valuable for specific tasks, specialized paid tools like the Echosec Systems Platform provide the data coverage and functionality necessary for intelligence analysts—like social, deep, and dark web data, geo searches, and machine learning capabilities.


2. Analysis and Visualization

Analysts need to efficiently visualize data and gather valuable insights. These tools may focus on generating data analytics or performing link analysis to understand relationships between data points. One example of this type of tool is Maltego

In a nutshell, Maltego provides real-time data access to a variety of sources and maps information on a node-based graph to show patterns and connections. Other examples of this type of software include Lampyre and Palantir.

3. Managed Attribution

As analysts gather open-source information, they may need to navigate websites through a browser. This can expose vulnerable information about the analyst and their web activities. Analysts need to blend into online spaces to stay secure and conceal their footprint from potential adversaries. 

Managed attribution tools establish this anonymity by isolating a user’s web activity on a secure cloud server. Silo by Authentic8 is a widely used managed attribution tool. Other OSINT and intelligence tools, like the Echosec Systems Platform, also manage attribution by providing data access with no need to navigate to the source.


4. Critical Event Management

Governments need to respond effectively to crises—whether it’s a cyber attack or a natural disaster. Critical event management (CEM) software is designed to support analysts who need to predict and detect critical events and support response and recovery. These tools also promote better cross-departmental communication when multiple teams are involved in CEM.

OnSolve is a CEM platform that uses AI and real-time alerts to support efficient crisis discovery and response. Other examples of CEM tools include AlertFind and Everbridge.

5. Information Management and Sharing

Intelligence analysts encounter a lot of data and insights throughout a session. Tracking this flow of information is a nightmare without the right software, and intelligence managers may need to reliably verify data provenance. Information management software, like a virtual analyst notebook, can help users effectively organize data and insights. 

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Intelligence directors often encounter gaps in this area of the watch floor toolkit when procuring from commercial vendors. Many analysts rely on word processing software and spreadsheets to track their progress, which can be cumbersome and inconsistent. IBM offers an Analyst’s Notebook tool that can work for users who need more complex data visualization features. Web capture tools like Hunchly also help analysts automatically document their investigative workflow.

Analysts are overloaded with data in an intelligence landscape that demands open-source content. Simply put, they need a toolkit that enables efficient data collection, analysis, and sharing. 

For a holistic intelligence strategy, operations centers require tools for OSINT, managed attribution, data analysis, and critical event management. While these tools are readily available in the marketplace, more work needs to be done by commercial vendors to streamline watch floor tools for information management and sharing.

Does your operations center need broader OSINT data coverage?

Book a demo to see if you’re missing any sources.