THE ISSUES IN THE COLLECTION, VERIFICATION AND ACTIONABILITY OF CITIZEN-DERIVED AND CROWDSOURCED INTELLIGENCE DURING THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE, 2022
When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, a war was opened on four fronts simultaneously, in the North, the East, the Southwest and the South. With Ukrainian troops immediately committed to battle along multiple axes of Russian advances, the importance of accurate and actionable Intelligence was key from the start. Alongside the usual military and civilian elements of the Ukrainian Intelligence community were Ukrainian citizens desperate to contribute what they were seeing and hearing on the ground as the invasion unfolded. Tools were rapidly made available for citizens to report sightings of Russian military activity, which were then verified and processed by Ukrainian Intelligence and where possible, were turned into actionable end-product reporting for military targeting. Such citizen-derived or crowdsourced Intelligence has provided an additional strand of source reporting for Ukraine during the conflict, yet its collection and use is not without its issues. Ethical issues are created, such as citizens putting themselves in ever-greater danger to collect information which they believe may be useful. This creates an additional problem of the potential attribution by the aggressor, of such a citizen as an informant, along with the concomitant risks which that brings. Policy needs to sufficiently incorporate citizen Intelligence to allow actions to be taken based on this product, especially lethal strikes. Practical issues include an increased volume of raw material for human analysts to process, before actionable Intelligence can be produced. This paper addresses these issues and signposts additional issues that require further research.
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