2015 February 2

[RECOBIA Project] : EU project offers solutions to improve intelligence analysis

The RECOBIA project found break-trough results in the field of intelligence and in mitigating the negative effect of cognitive biases. The three-year research project identifies ways to improve the work of intelligence officers by reducing the negative effect of those unconscious cognitive mechanisms. RECOBIA came to a close end of January and the findings are now available to interested parties.

The project team deconstructed the activities of intelligence officers and clustered them into Key Intelligence Tasks (KITs). Those KITs describe for the first time what intelligence officers actually do – both from an intelligence as well as from a psychological perspective. The KITs were used to identify the situation and activities in which cognitive biases are likely to impact intelligence officers. Finally, the project team developed mitigation strategies, which are easy to implement and will boost the quality of analysis.

All findings are illustrated in a scenario that represents the real life situation and work conditions of intelligence officers. This scenario describes in detail the situation in which an intelligence officer might be subjected to a cognitive bias and identifies mitigation strategies.

Intelligence is, by nature, a human activity. Intelligence can only be performed by humans. Even though IT tools might support the analyst, giving sense and meaning to information requires a human brain. But humans are subjected to unconscious and involuntary intellectual mechanisms such as cognitive biases. Also intelligence officers are not immune to these mechanisms, which can have a negative effect on the quality of their analysis. Time and resource constraints can increase the occurrence of cognitive biases.

The consortium organised a series of workshops, which attracted more than 100 participants representing 21 national intelligence agencies and 5 European Institutions. Those workshops were organised to identify the needs and requirements of the intelligence community and to validate the developed solutions. The close cooperation with intelligence professionals ensured that the developed solutions are easily applicable and respond to the requirements and constraints of the intelligence community.

The RECOBIA consortium, comprised of SMEs, universities, large companies and RTOs, worked closely with representatives of intelligence services from across the European Union. The project received funding from the European Union.

Since all humans are affected by cognitive biases, the identified solutions are not only useful to intelligence professionals but have a wide range of applications in several other areas of analysis, particularly in the sectors of journalism, banking, finance and health.

More information: www.recobia.eu