What is open-source information and why is it valuable?

Sources can be privileged, where access is controlled (i.e. those supplied by the client), or ‘open’, meaning they are or have at some point been available without controls.

Open sources also vary widely in terms of type (official, commercial, media or user-generated), as well as by format (text, imagery, audio, video or geospatial).

While open, it does not mean these sources are readily available, easy to capture or use. The most valuable open-source material – that providing new and unconsidered perspectives – is often the hardest to find and use.

Open-source information provides an increasingly valuable tool for critical decision-making. The range and volume of open sources provide huge opportunities. When effectively analysed and assessed such information can verify, disprove or provide nuance around information from more privileged sources such as client-supplied material.

We enable our clients to use the insights gained from open sources to powerful effect. Our perspectives and analysis of these sources guide clients in making assessments and decisions that will stand up to scrutiny.

Challenges in the open-source landscape

The open-source landscape is crowded and constantly evolving. It can be difficult to filter the noise and cut through huge volumes of data to either find the ‘golden nuggets’ of information, or distinguish the noise from what is credible and useful.

These are some of the challenges when working with open-source information:

  • Basic searching is often inadequate. In an era of information manipulation, basing key decisions on superficial findings can be dangerous.
  • The verification and validation process is time-consuming and difficult.
  • Established techniques and tools can quickly become outdated.
  • Open-source material is transient. The most valuable open sources are often only available for a short time before being deleted, edited or becoming hard to access.
  • Locating and managing large volumes of information or complex data can be difficult, time-consuming and daunting, especially when working across different languages and with multimedia.

Without well-tested, robust and dynamic approaches the open-source landscape can be overwhelming.

Working with open-source multimedia

Collecting and verifying open-source multimedia is labour-intensive and requires multiple levels of expertise. Our team are confident working with text, imagery and multimedia open sources. We innovate by default, experimenting and finding creative approaches to locate hard-to-find information to deliver value for clients.

In collecting imagery first-hand, we can identify and communicate to our clients the character and limitations of multimedia datasets for example with image size, lighting, formatting, watermarking, image manipulation and content context.

How we can help?

At Ridgeway, we’ve refined and professionalised our specialist approach to open-source research and analysis over the past ten years.

Our methodology has provided a trusted way for organisations to understand, navigate and use these complex information landscapes to their advantage.

We can help organisations with:

  • specific research and analysis issues;
  • in-house capability and capacity development;
  • systems, tools and techniques guidance.

Contact us directly to discuss your requirements in further detail.