The Influence of Informatization Development on Open Source Intelligence

Satellite intelligence and image intelligent analysis technology are important reasons for the rapid development of open source intelligence in recent years. Especially after the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2022, the role of open source intelligence combined with remote sensing data has been fully demonstrated.

On February 23, 2022, analysts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies caught an unusual train on radar images taken by the US space company Capella Space. The train was organized into ready-to-departure formation next to the highway. Based on the intelligence sensitivity of the analysts, they quickly combined the video on the social media platform TikTok and discovered that it was a train carrying armored vehicles moving from the Russian city of Belgorod to the Ukrainian border. Subsequently, while monitoring Google Maps, analysts found that there was a "traffic jam" at the exact location of the train. Since it was around 3:00 a.m. local time at the time, traffic jams would not normally occur. Combined with the above information, the analyst tweeted that the conflict had begun. About an hour later, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a "special military operation" as the bright red "traffic jam" on the map slowly moved towards the border.

Open source intelligence combined with remote sensing technology, on the one hand, can help military subjects track military infrastructure, such as understanding the war situation by monitoring real-time satellite maps, tracking aircraft flight trajectories through real-time flight data, and determining the moving direction of military vehicles through satellite images, helping to evaluate on-the-spot events and casualties etc. On the other hand, open source intelligence can be used to screen information on social media and verify the time and place of events.

In March 2022, the Yavoriv base, which allegedly possessed foreign mercenaries and a large number of foreign weapons, was attacked. Rumors said that it was exposed because Podolyak, the chief adviser to the Ukrainian President’s Office, posted pictures on Twitter to promote the conscription office. According to the text of the tweet and the background of the selfie, the base can indeed be located. Through geolocation software such as Google Maps, a clear bird's-eye view of the barracks can be obtained, and similar buildings have appeared in the tweet and subsequent attacked videos. This not only shows that open source intelligence and geolocation technology play a very important role in military conflicts, but also confirms its role in verifying information.