I had a couple really good questions this past weekend about looking for indicators signaling a SHTF situation. How can we tell an emergency event is going to happen before it happens? What can we look for? Those are very good questions but they’re not easily answered. We’ll work on breaking it down here. I want each of you to have a way forward to start developing your own Early Warning Indicators (EWI) for whatever threats you may be expecting.
To best describe EWIs, I’ll start with an analogy. Intelligence analysts identifying EWIs are a lot like insider trading. Inside traders who buy or sell a company’s stock do so because they learn sensitive information signaling a shift in the real or perceived value of that company. Inside traders sell off a company’s stock before news comes out that the company didn’t meet analysts’ earnings expectations. Alternatively, they buy a company’s stocks because they learn that a company will exceed earnings expectations, and then they stand to profit once that news is published and the stock price increases shortly after.
Another fitting analogy is a warning from a fire alarm or tornado siren. The ‘intelligence analyst’ in this case smells or sees smoke and then pulls the fire alarm (or the smoke sensor goes off automatically). Meteorologists or eye-witnesses confirm that a tornado or tornadic activity is in the area, and then the sirens go off, alerting nearby residents of the need to get to cover.
Governments around the world encourage (pay) intelligence analysts to identify EWIs in order to predict future ‘moves in the market’ of conflict and geopolitics. But identification of EWIs is only one part of the equation. Without the ability to ‘see’ the battlespace, intelligence analysts aren’t effective. We need the brain (the analyst) in order to identify EWIs, and we need the eyes and ears (the collector) to inform the brain about the environment. Developing eyes and ears is a critical step but we won’t talk about that now (go to the Collection category of this blog to read all the intelligence gathering articles).
So once intelligence analysts have all this information coming in, we start to get a good picture of the full spectrum of threats in the battlespace. Now there are four types of threats: Conventional, Irregular, Catastrophic, and Disruptive.