Monday, January 24, 2011
An RFI (Request for Information) rolled across my desk this morning asking where to find good SITREP (Situation Report -- this post is likely to be a little acronym heavy...) information for various countries in the world.
The idea, as I understood it, was to be able to prepare and deliver unclassified briefings on the current situation in a country of interest. Some people call these kinds of reports INFOSUMs (Information Summaries) or INTSUM's (Intelligence Summaries) or something else entirely but, whatever you call them (and there are some important technical differences between them all), they fundamentally focus on what happened in an area of interest (geographical or functional) over a standard period of time.
There are a couple of places that I think are particularly good for this kind of information. The first is Google News Alerts. If you are really hardcore, you should use the service in the native language of the country (if available) as well as in English.
Second, I would check out the ReliefWeb pages for the country of interest. While ReliefWeb does not cover every country, if it is a country of interest for the US intel community, it is probably on ReliefWeb as well. The site contains a wealth of hard to find SITREPs from the UN and various humanitarian agencies as well as a very complete map collection.
I also like the International Crisis Group's Crisis Watch. It has the look and feel of an old school intel watch report but the ICG has on the ground reporters and analysts in many countries. In addition to the Crisis Watch report, the ICG also prepares short analytic reports and, on occasion, detailed strategic intel reports on various hotspots around the world.
Finally, while more useful for natural disasters than standard SITREP type info, you might want to look at this near real time map (you can see a screenshot of a portion of it at the top of this post) of all of the stuff going on in the world. It is pretty nifty to look at even if some countries are not as well served as others.
I am sure that everyone has their favorite sites (please leave 'em in the comments!) but thought these sites are particularly useful since they aggregate content.