Case study

Niteworks 3: Exploiting Open Source Intelligence through innovation

To exploit Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) by ensuring continual innovation and improvement to keep pace with technology.

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MOD Crown Copyright

Project Summary

Niteworks assisted the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in enhancing its Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) capability, ensuring that the plethora of non-classified and publicly available information can be best utilised by the MOD and intelligence community to ensure the security of the UK. This was done in such a way as to set the conditions for continual innovation and improvement to allow the capability to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technical landscape.

How did Niteworks approach the task?

In 2012, the MOD asked Niteworks to develop a Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) that would examine its requirements for an OSINT capability and recommend solutions. Niteworks responded by delivering a series of experimental ‘sprints’ examining the range of technologies available, identifying the OSINT functionality required to gain insight into the rich sources of commercially-provided data available.

Niteworks recommended that the MOD adopt an ‘innovation environment’ consisting of a new approach to generating and exploiting innovative ideas, underpinned with appropriate technology, tools and test environments. By the end of 2013 the second phase of the CCD had proven the concept of an ‘Innovation Hub’ as an enabler for activities across MOD and Industry. The Niteworks team investigated the high-level architecture options, the challenges involved and engaged with a number of partner companies to inform the description of a service model and its requirements.

In 2015, Niteworks supported MOD in its move to acquire the new OSINT capability and develop its practices to meet the aspiration of seamless, collaborative working of the Open Source community across Defence. As part of this work the Niteworks team delivered sprints to define, refine and test the processes governing the operation and innovation of the capability. By immersing the user community in a realistic, distributed sprint exercise, rapid development of the operating processes was achieved.

Alongside this, a hackathon style event, or ‘innovathon’, was conducted that enabled MOD to test its processes for seeking innovative OSINT ideas, understanding their potential benefit to Defence, and governing how ideas may be developed into prototypes and eventually delivered as live services.

What was the outcome?

Innovation lies at the heart of the Niteworks OSINT programme and has drawn on the very best from across the partnership. As a result of Niteworks developing and demonstrating the innovation process, the MOD has taken a new approach to procuring this key capability and ensured that the solution will continue to incorporate the latest technology, avoiding the risk of becoming obsolete given the rapid pace of technology change.

What were the benefits of the project?

  • MOD and the intelligence community are safely able to exploit a vast and untapped information resource, in real-time
  • industry participation in the OSINT CCD via Niteworks has significantly contributed to its success and has driven the establishment of MOD’s future engagement strategy on OSINT
  • the innovation process and agile acquisition model that has been developed under the Niteworks OSINT programme is now being explored by the MOD’s Chief Digital Information Officer for applicability to wider Information, Services and Systems transformation
Published 28 March 2018