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Major Event Response and Planning: Using Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) to Ensure Public Safety

December 20, 2023

By John O’Hare, Director of Business Development and Sales at Cobwebs Technologies

Public events are a way humans beings come together. Through connection with other people, we enjoy events to mark special occasions – a concert, inauguration, parade or sporting event. Not only do we enjoy the event itself, but we enjoy the opportunity to be together. We feel safe. But we often take that feeling of safety for granted. It’s a given – nothing can possibly go wrong.

Unfortunately, there are many threats that can impact an event, no matter the location or scale, including natural weather disasters, disrupters, the outbreak of fights or an active shooter. To that end, event operations teams need open-source intelligence (OSINT) solutions for proactive security planning and real-time monitoring to keep communities and attendees safe during events.

In our new whitepaper, Event Planning and Proactive Policing: Safety, Security and Brand Management, we show how a platform custom-tailored to gather open-source web intelligence can help law enforcement and public safety agencies manage events and mitigate threats. The whitepaper was developed for law enforcement executives at the local, state, regional and federal level to help them integrate OSINT into pre-planning, response, and post-event management within their communities. OSINT can be used for every type of event from planning parades and music festivals to responses to unplanned events like protests and potential violence to organized events.

OSINT involves gathering open-source data from publicly available sources such as blogs, websites, online accounts, and news outlets, as well as information hidden on the deep and dark web, to generate valuable, actionable intelligence.

OSINT for Proactive Event Planning and Response

Over the last year, OSINT has been a crucial tool for organizations to successfully execute their events. Integrating critical intelligence must be part of the planning and response processes. As a result, law enforcement leaders need to understand how this data can protect their communities, their officers, and their reputations. Law enforcement can lean on OSINT for event planning, staffing, and response to simultaneously ease and speed up proactive policing efforts surrounding public events.

Used in event pre-planning, management and response, and final debriefing stages, OSINT can alert authorities to public safety concerns they may have otherwise missed. Additionally, using OSINT, authorities can mitigate widespread panic, violence, and other issues that could result in property destruction, injuries, and even the loss of life.

The Stages of OSINT Use for Safe Event Execution

  • While OSINT is greatly beneficial during an event, information collected prior to an event’s commencement is pivotal. As soon as event organizers begin preparations, OSINT enables law enforcement to identify groups that may attend and pose risks. By surveying online media, analysts can uncover anti-fans at a sports event, chatter online that could pose a threat or other activity that could jeopardize security. Armed with this intelligence, law enforcement can tailor their plans accordingly. If the data points to an elevated risk of disruption, staffing and resources can be bolstered ahead of time. OSINT also provides continuous adaptation as more intelligence is gathered leading up to the event. The more informed law enforcement is about possible risks ahead of time, the better prepared they can be to dynamically align staffing and security measures to address the shifting threat landscape.
  • During an event, operations teams should actively observe online activity to ensure attendees’ safety. By monitoring information in real-time during an event, teams can deploy resources as needed when credible threats and issues arise. An automated platform provides the best results for this work.
  • Equally important to an event’s safety and success is an after-action analysis. Though often overlooked, this is a vital step in the event planning process. Only by reviewing and evaluating previous event processes can successive events become more secure and successful. The same can also be said for analyzing the actual information and intelligence gained throughout the span of an event. This analysis may help explain the behavior, providing insights for future events. For reoccurring events, this step in the process is even more imperative.


Aiding Law Enforcement Teams with Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)

With so many people gathering for events, an immense amount of stress is placed on police resources. Using OSINT for the detailed planning of security operations before, during, and after an event is crucial to community safety.

This technology can help law enforcement teams to better understand the exact number of officers needed to staff an event, effectively justifying overtime and mutual aid when online sources point to larger crowds than expected.

If an event becomes dangerous, local law enforcement authorities will often be held accountable, regardless of the use of private security. Through open-source intelligence, teams can quickly deploy officers and resources at a scale for crowd control and keep attendees safe. Furthermore, if an incident does occur and is captured on video or through photos, law enforcement officers can leverage insights developed through automated OSINT platforms to understand the chain of events, identify suspects, and ensure prosecution. An AI-powered web intelligence platform can help capture media that may disappear within hours, providing critical information regarding an incident’s details.

Cobwebs Technologies’ Open-Source Intelligence Platform Impacts Event Planning and Response

With all the online information sources available for data collection, it can be a challenge for event operations teams to determine the starting point of a search and where the desired open-source information can be found. These teams clearly need a platform to leverage OSINT at every step of the event process.

Law enforcement can identify people who might threaten an event by mining and analyzing data collected from Cobwebs Technologies’ open-source web intelligence platform. This real-time monitoring of potential threats generates automated alerts of suspicious activities. These alerts can then be issued to event staff and security as soon as they happen.

Moreover, our analysis tools integrate all the data mined from various sources and analyze all information associated with the event, identifying patterns and hidden links to generate useful event intelligence. Cobwebs Technologies’ OSINT platform is an invaluable tool at every stage of event planning, enabling law enforcement and public safety agencies to create secure environments where both attendees and the community feel protected.

Without comprehensive intelligence, threats can be overlooked, undermining event safety and attendee trust. To learn more about how you can seamlessly integrate OSINT with event planning and response procedures, read our whitepaper, Event Planning and Proactive Policing: Safety, Security and Brand Management.


Johnmichael O’Hare

Lieutenant Johnmichael O’Hare retired from the Hartford Police (CT) in 2018. His career elevated through investigative units that specifically attacked narcotics and firearms violence.  In 2013 Lt. O’Hare was tasked with creating a Real Time Intelligence Center that could support critical function, as well as provide analytical and forensic back support to the Investigative units. Johnmichael currently serves as a Business Development/Sales director with Cobwebs Technologies with a focus on Threat Network identification & Interdiction in the Web Intelligence Realm.


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