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Turning information into intelligence

Page updated: 27 November 2020

If you are the Incident Controller, you need to use intelligence to formulate your Incident Action Plan. Follow this process to turn information into intelligence.

Follow a four-step process to produce intelligence

1. Gather information

Gather general information

This information could be about:

  • the subject
  • the environment
  • the terrain or sea conditions
  • the weather.


Gather specific information about the subject

This information could include:

  • bank records
  • medical and psychological records
  • phone records including the phone’s history of use and location data
  • social media records
  • information held on the subject's personal computer.


Gather specific information about where the subject may be

This could include information about:

  • public transport in the area
  • global positioning satellite (GPS) information
  • historical information about the area
  • old tracks in the area on old maps and charts
  • hunters’ tracks and huts
  • logging tracks.

2. Investigate information

Use qualified investigators

For general SAR operations, consider using an investigation specialist who knows about search and rescue from the New Zealand Police. These investigation specialists have:

  • training in investigation
  • subject matter expertise
  • access to information not available to people who are not police.

For specialised SAR operations, you may have to seek investigators with specific knowledge in the area.


Ask investigators to complete two main tasks

Investigators should:

  • identify and collect information that is missing
  • validate information that has already been collected.


Make sure investigators check for three things when validating information

Investigators need to check that information is:

  • accurate (it’s been confirmed by another source)
  • current (it’s recent enough to be useful)
  • relevant (it relates to the operation).

3. Categorise and display the information

Sort the information into appropriate categories. For example, you could use categories such as ‘victim’, ‘weather’, ‘vessel’, and so on.

Display the information so that it is readily available to the Incident Management Team. For example, you might use a simple written description on white board, or a large collection of photos and maps displayed on the wall of the planning room at the Incident Control Point.

4. Evaluate and analyse the information to produce intelligence

You can evaluate and analyse information by either:

  • conducting an appreciation
  • using a process that is equivalent to conducting an appreciation.

Once this is done, information can be defined as intelligence.

Distribute important intelligence to people involved in the operation

Once you’ve turned information into intelligence, get important intelligence to the people who need it as fast as possible.

Keep people informed, but try to avoid overloading them with new intelligence that is not important.

Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police