Sunday, November 16, 2008

Japanese Space Elevators, Terrorism In The Phillipines And Graffiti (Catching Up)

I love teaching strategic intelligence but it does take it out of me. The centerpiece of the class is a series of small group projects for real world decisionmakers on a variety of business, law enforcement or national security topics. In the past, we have done projects, for example, for the NIC, the 66th MI and the Army War College on topics ranging from bioterror preparedness in Europe to the role of non-state actors in sub-saharan Africa.

This last term (we are on the quarter system at Mercyhurst so we are just winding up our fall term) was no exception. I had good solid projects from decisionmakers that wanted and needed the results coupled with teams of hard-working, dedicated student analysts to get things done. 10 teams to be exact. For those of you keeping score at home, that is technically known as "a ton of strategic intelligence projects".

Anyway, Strategic (as it is fondly -- maybe? -- called by the students) kept me from blogging about all of the other interesting stuff that has been happening lately as well. I will try to catch up next week, but here are some recent highlights.

Cyndi Lee, a current grad student, recently had an article published by ISN talking about the prospects for a Japanese space elevator. Once thought to be just science fiction, Cyndi's research suggests that the technology is either here, right now, or within reach and that the Japanese are serious about trying to make it happen.

I may have mentioned this before but my long-time writing partner, Diane Chido, also had a piece published by ISN on the "exportability" of the model used in the Phillipines to reduce the threat posed by Abu Sayyaf. If you missed it (or I forgot to mention it), it is worth your time.

Diane has also recently established herself as a freelance intelligence analyst and launched the company DC Analytics. I am prejudiced, of course, but if you have read her thesis or any of her other articles on ISN or her books or her essays in Competitive Intelligence Magazine, you know she is a talented professional with all the right credentials to go "indie". She joins Mark Blair and Mike Thomas of Dagir Co. as Mercyhurst grads who have become intelligence entrepreneurs.

Finally, one of the strategic teams mentioned earlier, working for the Erie Graffiti Task Force, has really been making a spash locally. The Task Force is an ad hoc group of local business owners, politicians and academics trying to constructively tackle the issue of graffiti. With the limited resources they have at their disposal, they really needed strategic intelligence to help inform their strategy. The project turned out very well and was extremely well-received by not only the Task Force, but also by the Mayor of Erie, Joe Sinnott, who sat in on the final brief.

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