On to Chapter Eight
This chapter presents an introductory outline of information collection programs, methods and procedures. Generally speaking, research data sources, intelligence consumer requirements and transmission channels can also be included under the category of collection technology. Those topics have already been introduced in preceding chapters.
Chapter 7: Methods and Techniques of Obtaining Information
The question of collection is not only one of methods and technology, but it encompasses skills and expertise as well, the latter having much to do with individual human qualities, temperament, accomplishments and abilities, but these are matters not dealt with in this book.
As regards the discussion of collection methods, the point was made in Chapter 1, Section 5 that "from the developmental aspect, search topics could be treated under information collection methodology." Section 1 of this chapter addresses the subject from the aspect of collection systems, and briefly visits the question of how acquisition is done. The other sections of this chapter describe actual collection methods.
Section One -- Information Collection Systems
Information collection methods and technology are intimately linked to the subject of collection systems. Although information collection systems have been around for a long time, they had not received close attention until the development of intelligence S&T and especially the greater application and timeliness requirements for the information needed by modern society. Only through gradual development of the concepts and mastery of the technologies pertinent to collection systems will it be possible to raise information collection to a higher levels of efficiency and make collection systems more scientific.
I. General Description of Information Collection Systems
An information collection system is the input mechanism of an intelligence system, meaning that the function of a collection system essentially is to perform the input operations for an intelligence system. Input operations are obviously germane to the goals, capabilities and system environments of collection systems.
The information collection system is an organized collection apparatus composed of many links. It gets many kinds of inputs from its information sources and gives many kinds of outputs to intelligence consumers. An information collection system is an open system that makes constant adaptations to a changing system environment.
An information collection system is a transmission system with information coming in and information going out. An information collection system cannot change the structure or form of the information itself, but it can change the speed and direction of the information transmission.
To state it succinctly, an information collection system applies search methodologies, and in accordance with consumer requirements hunts, discovers, selects, transmits and supplies useful information.
An information collection system consists of two parts, men and machines. As collection S&T develops, machines will have greater roles to play, but they can never replace humans. The relationship between humans and machines will demand study, but human activities will come first.
An information collection system may be categorized as a manually operated system, mechanically operated system or an electronically operated system. Present day S&T information collection systems are primarily manually operated systems.
Information collection theory is still in its formative stage. The S&T aspects of information technology, computer technology, operations research, systems science and intelligence studies will provide the technical and methodological bases for the development of information collection systems. The epicenter of research on information and collection is the progressive developmental research on information collection systems.
II. The Analysis, Design and Activation of Information Collection Systems
The establishment of an information collection system involves three stages: system analysis, system design and system activation.
1. System analysis. This stage defines the targets, requirements and workability of the collection system. The analytic research probes the questions of who are the users, who are the primary and the general users, what are the categories of users, and what kinds of information will be needed at what times for what special activities? What sorts of information resources are relevant? Can they be produced? What are the available supply channels? Are their intents and extents rational, and are they organizationally, technologically and economically workable? Intelligence consumer requirements research, intelligence sources and information sources research, and delivery channels research provide the foundations for collection systems analysis.
2. System design. In accordance with the aims and capabilities of the collection system, the plans and designs will set the specifications for organizing personnel, finances, materials and technical facilities, and they will set the rules for working in concert to actuate interdepartmental coordination of collection. In designing a collection system, collection systems at large must be studied to gather reference data to be used for proposing and establishing new system specifications.
3. System activation. This includes collection system operations, calibrations, controls and evaluations.
III. Particular Points of Activating an Information Collection System
1. Calibrations and evaluations of a collection system can only be done while the system is operating. System effectiveness and problems can only come to light when the system is in operation, therefore, when the system is actually activated it is absolutely essential to get feedback from consumers and information to information sources to enable continuous regulation of the collection system so that the system can maintain normal operations.
2. A collection systems is an open system, closely connected to the external environment and the intelligence system. Changes in the external environment have a direct impact on the effectiveness of a collection system, therefore, in the process of activating a collection system, it is important to pay close attention to the effects that external control variables have on the structure and functions of a collection system in order to enable the collection system to exercise good adaptability.
3. A collection system is an active society that places high demands on cooperation, and it is closely associated with a multitude of activities inside and outside of the intelligence system. Within the collection system there are extraordinarily complex nonlinear mutual activities among subsystems. Therefore, the collection system must be constantly perfecting itself, its internal coordination mechanism must be studied and coordinated in activation.
4. A collection system's operations are set up on a basis of a sequential processing of a series of singular operational assignments, therefore, in the course of actuating a collection system, the complex process of collection is broken down into a series of more simple collection processes, including the assignment of people, posts, and duties in order to achieve an organized implementation, which means, in effect, reducing to a minimum uncoordinated implementations of subsystems within a collection system and keeping them operating harmoniously in a unified order that best assures the well being of entire collection system.
A collection system contains a wealth of matter that must be carefully studied by a large body of intelligence operators. The general makeup of a collection system has already been treated from several viewpoints as addressed above. Proceeding from the general principles, an attempt will now be made to outline organizationally the question of "how to collect." It is believed that the way to conduct research and development of various kinds of highly effective collection systems is through more rapid acquisition techniques and S&T, more substantive collection science, and the earnest development of information science.
Section Two -- The Basic Process of Obtaining Information
I. Setting Collection Policy
Collection policy must be formulated according to the purposes and mission of each collection system. Collection policy doesn't solve the basic problems of collection activities, but guides the general principles of collection operations and inspects the criteria of collection operations.
Collection policy is determined according to the intentions of the higher authorities, their understanding of the intelligence environment, explicit service objectives and financial considerations.
1. Administrative levels and echelons. The first thing that must be known when setting collection policy is where the intelligence elements fit into the national intelligence system. If it is to be at the State Council level, totality is to be considered; at the ministry and commission level, comprehensiveness is considered; and at the research institute level, the specialty is the item of consideration.
2. Intelligence environment. When setting collection policy, the specific locations within the intelligence environment must be thoroughly studied, such as the geographical environment or the cooperative environment, so that the collection policy can embody the principles of systematics and networking in order to achieve a rational layout of resources.
The context of the intelligence environment must also include the effects and actions of the information industry.
3. Service objectives. Requirements differ according to different kinds of people and different kinds of information, for example, the kinds of information needed by people engaged in national defense S&T management are obviously different from those engaged in national defense S&T research. Therefore, the specific needs as determined by service objectives of the intelligence element must be taken into consideration when setting collection policy.
4. Financial capability. Collection policy must be supported by reliable financial resources. Two points are important in considering financial resources. One is that the information costs inflate annually. Such factors as the natural inflation rate of imported documents, increasing management expenses, and yuan (renminbi) devaluations combine to raise prices by 15 to 20 percent every year. The other factor inflating the cost of information that must be considered is China's material expense funds allocation system, which is set in advance and doesn't change over many years.
5. "Increase product variety, reduce redundancy, distribute rationally, share resources." Although this slogan is mouthed by every intelligence element engaged in the process of setting collection policy, and everyone endorses it as the guiding policy, it has, in fact, for a variety of reasons, not borne much fruit. There is the sense that funds are tight, but there is also a lot of redundant collection, and it occurs everywhere. As the S&T management system reforms set in, it is hoped that this situation will be turned around.
II. Formulating Collection Plans
A collection plan is the scheduled embodiment of collection policy that not only defines specific targets for collection operators, but proposes solutions for anticipated problems.
In the process of drafting a collection plan, the following principles should be observed:
1. Foresight. Material resources, user requirements, the laws of statics and change that will effect transmission channels during the course of the plan, and other plan-inhibiting conditions should be forecasted.
2. Systematics. In terms of space, the requirements for rational arrangements between elements and the question of overall balance of various categories of information within elements must be considered. And, in the time domain, the question of succession and serial continuity must be considered.
3. Expansiveness. New plans offer new development and innovations over old plans, and there should be no feet dragging or resistance to change.
4. Multidimensional structures. Every aspect of information collection cannot be fully attended to, and a more reasonable multidimensional structure should be defined on a more appropriate scale in accordance with the mission and collection policy of the individual element itself in terms of its information categories, product types, quantities and specialties.
5. Focus. Collection plans must be focused on the needs of consumers and avoid being drawn into the quantity-oriented "storage center" mentality.
6. Salient points. The salient points of collection in the plan should be the information most important to consumers, items of widely shared interest and those that have the most promise of getting results.
7. Domestic and foreign integration. In the collection of information, Chinese and foreign language information are equally important. Some intelligence elements pay more attention to foreign language information than Chinese language information. The collection process should not be focused on the importation of foreign information alone, but should combine foreign information with Chinese information. In differentiating situations and making selections, some collected foreign information should be used, and some domestic, and methods of duplication extraction and textual rendering methods should be used in the search for answers.
8. Keep within financial means. Proceed in accordance with financial and personnel strengths.
III. Implementing Collection
The actual collection of information is a time consuming process that is conducted in two phases.
1. Organizational activity. One aspect of the organizational activity takes place within collection departments, such as the organizational work of making selections, assigning studies, admitting new members and organizing work flow. The other is the aspect of external organizational activity. People and organizations are the sources and the consumers of information, and the transmission channels under whatever conditions can't do without people and organizations. Therefore, external organizational activity is always to be done. It is called liaison work. Collection operators all have certain organizational and liaison capacities.
2. Service processing. In the actual process of collecting information, every collection operator has to do an awful lot of painstaking work, work that is necessary and practical, without which the information basically cannot be obtained. It is by means of this work that the inherent problems of collection, the summation of the collection experience, and the sought after laws and scientific nature of collection work should be discovered.
IV. Consumer Information Feedback
The collection of the information and delivery to the consumer, or non-delivery to the consumer as the case may be, having been accomplished, does not represent the end of the collection process. An important step in the process is the collection of consumer reactions and appraisal of the information. This information feedback facilitates adjustment and control of the information collection and transmission process, the progress of the collection effort, the perfection of the collection system, and the improvement of results of the collection effort. The execution of this procedure is not easy, but it is very easy for collection departments and operators to neglect accomplishing it.
Section Three -- Basic Methods of Information Collection
The so-called collection method means the timely collection of information from the information sources in accordance with the collection plan. There are many collection methods and they can be summarized according the customary practices of collection operators as follows:
I. Assigning the Direction and Subjects of Collection
1. Directing collection. This means, within the limits allowed by the plan, to implement full collection of all information produced by a certain information source, or all of certain categories of information, or certain specifically designated information. The collection may be directed to collect all of the London International Strategic Research Institute's research reports; or it may be directed to get the complete sets of AD reported film information or all of the NASA film reportage. IEEE information could be the directed target of collection; or the directed collection may be a book title or some concrete leads supplied by a consumer as a "means to get the goods." The many foreign TV signals monitored by foreign installations, or signals of foreign broadcasting stations are also directed collection. That consumers derive intelligence from directed collection information goes without saying.
2. Assigning collection subjects. This means assigning information collection according to the area of specialty or outline of requirements appointed by the consumer, and although the assignment may be well focused, the collection is guided by a frame of reference in which the targets are not absolutely definitive, and the information that is actually wanted lie within that framework. Collection is therefore not an easy task, and there is an aspect of randomness about it that puts a high demand on the quality and expertise of the collection operator. Every item of information collected in this manner will not necessarily be useful, but when a useful item turns up, it will have positive after effects. Information collected that is directed at leadership organizations or research department "subjects" falls under assigned collection subjects. Verbal information collected through the "selected subjects" of arranged technology exchanges are also assigned collection subjects. As (itemized) fact databases and full-text databases are developed, the information in those databases collected through on-line retrievals directed at specially designated questions also fall under the category of assigned collection subjects.
3. Directed collection and assigned subject collection methods are mutually supportive. The traditional "document repositories" are largely of the directed collection methodology. The collection activities of S&T intelligence work should put more emphasis on applying the assigned subject collection approach to intelligence questions and apply directed collection efforts toward certain specially designated information.
II. Active and Passive Collection
1. Active collection. To actively collect information deemed pertinent according to analysis and anticipation of the consumer's requirements is active collection. Active collection is difficult in the respect that it requires the information collection operator to be very strong in the research capabilities and specialized knowledge of the consumer.
2. Passive collection. To passively collect information in accordance with the precise and concrete contents and even leads or clues provided by the consumer is called passive collection.
3. Active collection and passive collection are mutually supportive. For many years, the conduct of collection was passive, and not much use was made of active collection. Consumer problems often arise suddenly, and then the information collection is initiated. The effective way to reduce this "time lag" is to improve active collection activities both organizationally and individually through operators, and this has become a priority item for collection departments.
III. Unidirectional and Multidirectional Collection
1. Unidirectional collection. Unidirectional collection means using a single channel to collect from a single information source in response to a specially designated consumer requirement, and this is the means most frequently encountered in actual collection work. The unidirectional collection of overt information for general user needs usually satisfies the requirement. It is the means generally used to collect classified information as well, and the need for multidirectional collection is not great.
2. Multidirectional collection. Multidirectional methods may be used to collect information from a single information source or multiple information sources to satisfy a special requirement from a special consumer. Multidirectional methods can't be used often because they can easily result in redundant collection. The trade-off for redundancy in multidirectional collection is timeliness and accessibility.
IV. Tracking Collection
For certain types of requirements, dynamic monitoring and tracking is conducted against relevant intelligence sources and information sources, and when new and useful information arises, collection is initiated. Tracking collection is useful for obtaining dynamic information and accumulating information on special topics. Tracking collection is often done in coordination with intelligence research or soft-science research activities.
V. Positive and Negative Integration
It is neither necessary nor possible for any intelligence element to gather all information systems within one collection scope, especially in view of the rapidly developing databases of today, and there is no reason to persist in simply using the "positive" collection method.. In the information age, "positive" and "negative" must be combined, which means collecting "positive" information, and also collecting "negative" information leads. "Positive" information is collected to load a database so that customers may be served by means of the retrieving "positive" information from the database. Collecting "negative" leads enriches a database by providing consumers with pointers that tell the consumer what sorts of information other departments may have, where the information that the consumer wants may be found and by what means it can be obtained.
The "positive negative integration" method is an important revolution in the concept of collection that gives the collection operator new vistas and new vitality.
Section Four -- Information Collection Methods
Determining collection policy, formulating collection plans and selecting collection methods will not collect the information without the aid of specific means of collection.
I. Administrative Procedures
Information collection is conducted through the authority of administrative organizations and leadership and through authoritative administrative command. It encompasses such forms as report submissions, subscriptions and allocations. The collection of documents, archival information and program information must be done through administrative procedures.
II. Economic Procedures
Information collection is conducted according to the requirements of economic laws and regulations, through such forms as economic levers and adjustments. It involves such things as ordering of goods, making purchases, and conducting on-line retrievals. Information collected from independent economic profit-making information sources must be conducted though economic procedures. Economic procedures are the most important and most common procedures used in information collection.
III. Legal Procedures
Information collection is conducted in accordance with laws and regulations and social standards comparable to laws. There are many such procedures in operation abroad, such as the contract system. Collection of national defense S&T by U.S. national defense technical intelligence centers by law is subject to the budgetary system. This sort of procedure is not much used in China.
IV. Person to Person Exchange Procedures
Information collection is conducted through personal contacts, as in attending academic exchange conferences, technical exchange conferences, planning, demonstration, and appraisal meetings and through discussions between individuals. This is the procedure commonly used for collecting verbal information, but it is not limited to verbal information. Participation in consultative activities is also a person to person exchange procedure for collecting information.
V. Social Service Procedures
Information collection is conducted through the social service attributes of intelligence elements, such as through the receipt of complimentary books, requests and exchanges. Intelligence elements should be attentive to using their attributes as information sources to spread their influence. Intelligence networking activity should be developed. In times past the social service procedure was an important form of information collection, but has gradually fallen into disuse.
VI. Telecommunications Procedures
Optical and electronic signal information can be collected by communications facilities. Telecommunications procedures are necessary for collecting information from database resources at long range.
VII. Other Procedures
This includes such procedures as on-site acquisition, eavesdropping and theft.
Section Five -- Selection Techniques
The process of information collection encompasses the process of information selection, and information selection occupies every moment of every hour. Making good selections is the key to achieving quality accomplishment of the collection mission.
I. The Intent of Selection
The basic intent and purposes of selection in the process of information collection are keeping costs to a minimum, getting the needed information to the consumer as quickly as possible, reducing and eliminating interference and running a smooth information collection operation.
Selection and collection are inseparable sequential activities, selection being the preparatory stage of collection.
Making selections is a day to day activity in the process of information collection, and it is not at all an easy task. The technique of selection requires a wealth of expertise based on the collector's abilities, knowledge of information science and collection science, and selection skills, and especially analytic abilities, associative skills, judgement and empirical knowledge.
The selective reach of a collection operator does not extend to making selections for the distilling of intelligence from the information.
II. The Content of Selection
As expressed above, selection permeates the entire process of information collection, and every link in the collection process involves the act of selection. The workings of every subsystem in the collection system for the most part are inseparable from the processes of selection.
1. Selection of information required by consumers. It is not possible to respond to every consumer desire. It is necessary to see whether the information desired falls within the range of what ought to be collected, and whatever does fall within that range must be prioritized and dealt with on its merits.
2. Selecting resource materials. In making selections it is important to consider the accessibility of the information, what it will cost and what will be the response time of the information source in satisfying the consumer requirement.
3. Selecting the form of the information carrier. When selecting information categories, it is important to consider the readability of the information, and the factors of cost and storage conditions.
4. Selecting information transmission channels. In selecting the channels, it is important to consider the speed of information transmission, the reliability of the channels and their vulnerability to interference.
5. Selecting information content. This has to do with judging the information content of the information. One thing to consider in selecting information content is the special reference of the expressed main subject of the request, and the other is whatever has relevance to the expressed main subject. Special reference means that which coincides completely and having relevance means having a certain degree of connectedness. At the same time, in selecting information contents, it is also important to pay attention to whether the element already may have the information, and whether it has already been acquired, and that leads the question of setting up techniques and systems for cross-checking information.
6. Selecting information transmission opportunities. Selecting transmission opportunities mainly concerns selecting the most opportune times for most convenient and reliable transmission.
7. Selecting information acquisition volumes. In order to best satisfy consumer requirements it is necessary to select a suitable "safety coefficient" for handling an adequate and practical volume of information before the information is actually collected.
III. Difficulties of Selection
Selection, to be sure, is pretty tough to do, first because it has to be done in accordance with the consumer requirement, irrespective of the sentiments of the selector. It is well known that consumer requirements come not only in great variety, but they can be highly idiosyncratic and difficult to comprehend. The second reason is because in the process of making selections, accurate judgements have to be made as to where the information fits into the consumer requirement, and that can only be satisfactorily accomplished through thorough investigation and study of the information and intelligence sources. And the third is because, in the process of assessing the content of the information, it is difficult to make anything more than a general appraisal of any content that is beyond the scope of the selector's own expertise, which is tantamount to saying, the less the selector knows, the easier the selection.
The difficulties described above are the collection operators' subjective reasons for the difficulties they encounter. The objective causes of the difficulties that often confound collection operators are these:
1. Collection policies are not clear, and that leaves collectors with no clear guidance as to what to do in the course of making selections. The causes for that are often of a social nature, or they lie within the structure of the operational organization.
2. The explosive increase in information volume. The vastness of human knowledge and the rapid increase in the volume of information and types of products is constantly expanding selection options available to collection operators and it is making it difficult for them to master the full range of relevant information and intelligence resources.
3. Knowledge is rapidly outdated. Modern S&T development is a cauldron of change with new discoveries, inventions and creations being made every hour of every day. Old ideas are being supplanted by newer ideas, and imperfect methods by more perfect methods. This applies to S&T personnel likewise, and so to collection operators. The rapid obsolescence of their store of knowledge makes their selection of information content less and less adequate. The fact that collection operators are generally responsible for a broad range of specialties makes these conflicts and difficulties even more pronounced.
4. The language obstacle. The information encountered today and in the future will be composed of language symbols used for abbreviating knowledge. Collection operators, in selecting information content, must first recognize symbolic language. The language comprehension of any individual collector has its limits, and not only will the difficulties of natural language, specialized language and machine language be encountered, but what presents even more serious difficulties are the variations in texts and degrees of writing skills.
5. Time differential. There is a time lag between the formation of knowledge in the brain and its transformation into solid information. The delivery of information from the information source to the consumer takes time, and there are time-consuming obstacles in that delivery time that also contribute to the time differential. These two kinds of time differentials are social in nature, and the processes of their formation are generally beyond the control of the collection operator. It is often difficult to produce the most desired conditions for choosing the best time for transmission.
6. Economic limitations. The process of selection is clearly constrained by financial considerations. The collection operator may happen upon a most ideal circumstance for making a selection, but a lack corresponding financial support may render him willing but unable to serve the consumer.
7. Problems of selection methodology. The conduct of selection in present-day information collection is basically dependent on the nature of the individual, and it is directly affected by the work attitude, quality, education and experience of the individual. There is still no scientific selection methodology, and collection operators still don't give sufficient attention to the laws of information extraction, analysis, and search in the process of making selections. Intelligence mathematics is still not actually used to guide selection activities with any degree of success.
8. The limitations of selection technology development. The level of selection technology is too low. The needed selection technology cannot be assured , and that will inevitably hamper the efficacy of selection.
IV. Information Selection Reference Materials and Manuals
To conduct selection activities without the guidance of collection policies and plans is like trying to "cook without rice." It can't be done blind, nor wrested out of thin air. It must be based on frequent investigation and study with the assistance of reference materials and reference manuals.
These reference materials are diverse in form and content, and they are scattered and not easily found, and they can be rather difficult to comprehend. Collection operators rely primarily on their daily searches, discoveries and accumulations. Most of the reference materials used today include: advertisements in periodicals and databases, publication notifications, new book and new electronic publication announcements, databases, publisher's price lists, academic conference forecasts, critical reviews in newspapers and magazines, and verbal accounts from experts and students.
In order to promote sales and expand distribution, domestic and foreign information sources periodically or aperiodically publish reference books that consumers use for reference in the process of making selections. They include subscription catalogues, publication catalogues, new book weeklies and cumulative book lists. Although the primary purpose of reference-book search and book-list databases is for researchers to investigate and find materials, it is a convenient way for information collection operators to find leads to information sources. Information collection operators should regularly peruse reference books relevant to their affairs, such as the various subscription catalogues compiled by the China National Publications Import and Export Corporation, foreign book stores and Xinhua Book Store; and such reference materials as are often used by national defense S&T information collection operators, such as the "U.S. Government Report Notifications and Index," "Spaceflight S&T Report," and "World Conferences."
Reference materials for the selection of computer-readable information are widely scattered. The following are introductions to some of the reference books available for making selections from databases.
1. "Guide to Reference Books." the "Guide to Reference Books" has a long history. In the U.S. it is called the "reference consultation Bible," the ninth supplementary edition of which was issued in 1980 and the database has been enlarged with 45 different computer listings of reference books.
2. "Computer-Readable Databases; a Directory and Data Source Book." This book has been published regularly since it was initiated by Professor M. E. Williams of the University of Illinois in 1976. A new edition is issued every three years. It began to appear in two volumes in 1985: the "Science, Technology, and Medical Science Volume" and the "Trade, Law, Social Science and Anthropology Volume." The 1985 Directory, which introduces a total of 2,805 databases, is the most popular reference-book database of its kind to date.
3. "Directory of On-Line Databases." This book combines book lists and non-book lists in one handy volume. It provides frequently updated descriptions of the scope and dates of every database. It was begun in 1979 and is published quarterly.
4. "On-Line Data Retrieval Source Book." This directory has indexes of relevant database tables and subject titles that helps the searcher find data that can't be looked up in other reference books.
5. "Guide to DIALOG Databases." This directory is published by DIALOG Systems and contains detailed discussions that are useful to specialists and intelligence operators.
6. In addition, there are also the "On-Line Reference Aid; A Directory of Manuals, Guides & Thesauri" and the "Quick Reference Guide."
It is worthwhile to note in the context of information collection, that the reference materials and books most commonly encountered either have little to do with military or national defense S&T or the contents of their previews are overly simplistic and can't completely fulfill the needs of China's collection operators. Therefore, front-line national defense S&T intelligence collection operators must redouble their investigative research efforts to make daily accumulations, broaden their resources and build their files.
Section Six -- Modernized Collection Operations and Computer Applications
A distinguishing feature of collection modernization is collection S&T. Computers are the touchstones of modern intelligence technology, and they are the technology that will guarantee the modernization of data collection. Computer technology is now widely used to automate intelligence operations, particularly in the process of retrieving information, but the use of computers by information collectors is still in the searching and testing stage. Given the wellspring of the human spirit, as collection operations gradually enter upon the collection S&T stage and modernization of intelligence operations progresses, the question of modernizing collection operations and acquisition technology will eventually capture the attention of all corners of society.
I. The Basic Recipe for Modernizing Collection
So-called collection modernization means applying modern scientific methods and technical procedures guided by collection science in carrying out the process of information collection, and it encompasses the following aspects.
1. Making Information Collection Part of the National System, and Formulating Effectual National Collection Policy
Information collection is the first step in the entire intelligence process and it is of utmost importance to the delivery of information. The information collector has to have strong social instincts and be highly cooperative by nature in his milieu of intelligence departments, and the information production, preservation and broadcasting departments. Information collectors are not only the first link in intelligence operations, but they have close association with planning management, product management, academic and technical exchange work, foreign exchange, foreign trade and archives. But, the reality of the present is that China has not yet been able to consider bringing information collection fully into the national system and collection policy does not wholly comport with present circumstances. China therefore has not received the full benefit of information collection that it should in the macroscopic sense, and in the microscopic sense, coordination among the various departments and units is also deficient. In China, one of the indicators of modernized S&T information collection operations is whether or not collection operations have been brought into the national system and whether or not an effective national collection policy has been formulated.
2. The national S&T information collection system should have arterial intercommunications and an interconnecting collection network.
The targets of the national S&T information collection system must be made clear. The disposition of its subsystems should be scientifically sound, and they should cover a vast area. There should be a clear division of labor among subsystems, and each should have its own particular emphasis. Each subsystem should have its own collection channels and procedures. Overall, the national collection system should have veins and arteries of intercommunications and an interconnecting collection network with tentacles reaching to every corner of every area.
3. The national collection system should use a chain of transmission links to deliver information to its consumers and give them the maximum benefits in terms of time and technical economics.
4. The first steps should be taken in formulating a system of theoretical concepts of information science and collection science to provide a generally acknowledged guidance for reforming information collection and promoting the modernization of intelligence operations.
5. Applying Modernized Collection Technology
The application of modernized collection technology in information collection operations will surely greatly raise the efficiency of collection. The contents of modernized collection technology and modernized intelligence technology are very much the same. They include computer, communications, networking, identification and information processing technologies. Collection technology also extends to information production and information transmission technologies. China's collection technology is a generation behind in the degree of modernization of memory and retrieval technologies.
Computer technology, one of the indicators of modernization, is now beginning to be applied in collection operations, but only in doing searches and testing. From another perspective however, thanks to the military requirement, the degree of modernization is quite high for information collection through telecommunications and reconnaissance techniques. Those two techniques got off to an early start and the computer technology that accompanied them was a natural outgrowth.
In conducting an analysis of the application of computers to information relevant to collection operations, the first thing to do is to employ systematic methods by enlisting the aid of mathematical tools, such as operations research and search theory, fuzzy mathematics, and mathematical statistics, and to begin by making a series of mathematical models of information sources, consumer requirements, collection procedures and extraction methods. This has to be followed by even more laborious research.
The following are descriptions of two quite useful examples of the application of computers in information collection operations:
II. Document Acquisition Microcomputer Management Systems
In order to save time in information collection operations, raise efficiency, reduce duplication of labor, complete tasks that would be difficult to do manually, and get the maximum use out of the information, the China National Defense S&T Data Center uses a DBASE III compiler program, a new Chinese character system, and the Document Acquisition Microcomputer Management System (DAMMS) on an IBM-PC/XT computer. 1. System Design
Because there are certain limitations in using the system use on a microcomputer for general applications, an adequate database management system could not be designed for multiple conditions on one microcomputer alone. The design had to accommodate the computer and tasks and special items that have to be accomplished. The system was designed mainly for the following features.
(1) The document acquisition mission and specific items. The specific items of the information acquisition system are:
(a) The time span is short, and the coverage consists mainly of newly published matter and S&T reports issued within the last three or four years, and any older documents are generally not retrievable.
(b) It has specific management items. The order number, price, origin, publisher and address, the publication date and delivery time all have to be used in the document acquisition system, and nothing less.
(c) The title and organization report number are mainly used for look up, and the retrieval system mainly uses subject search.
(2) The scale of the database has to be maintained in dynamic equilibrium. The scale of the database is limited by the memory capacity of the microcomputer, which limits information input to material of the last few years. As new information is constantly being put in, the old information has to be deleted periodically so that the database scale will be kept in dynamic equilibrium.
(3) Full utilization of storage space. In the process of laying out the structure of the database, choosing the term length and setting up indexes, full consideration has to be given to how much storage space is being taken up in order to leave as much room as possible for data input.
(4) The system must be easy to operate, have reliable stability and have fast operating speed.
2. System Structure and Functions
(1) Database structure
In order to assure that the system will operate normally, a primary concern was the use of terms in the database, which had to be of quite high frequency (see table).
Term strings were used based on the initial letters of their Chinese Pinyin spellings, such as PM to represent Pian Ming (article title), and GRZZ for Ge Ren Zuo Zhe (individual writer).
In order to save storage space, the number of terms was reduced as much as possible, some having two uses, such as PM, which means article title, and is also the name of a conference. CBS is both publisher and conference sponsor. LYDH is both goods-ordering number and a non-ordering-channel codename (such as in reproductions and technical talks).
In order to save storage space, every term length was carefully chosen. The selected length of the PM field was 100 characters, and the title of any document with more than 100 characters was left incomplete. The part that was dropped, as far as the document acquisition system was concerned, had no effect, and was admissible. Abbreviations were used to shorten titles that were too long for input, such as shortening International to Intl, and Conference to Conf, etc. Another consideration was that terms such as GRZZ would not be principle look-up items, only reference items. Term lengths were set at 20 characters, the minimum to guarantee that the first author would be complete, and as far as the system is concerned, one author is enough.
In order to improve the look-up speed, reliability and convenience for the user, the term PMDM was entered into the database structure. It is composed of a small amount of characters selected from an data article card according to a given procedure in order to avoid using all of the characters for the article title look-up, the time and the input so as to reduce the error rate and speed up operations.
(2) System Structure
The system uses modular operations, the various function modules being coordinated by a main control module.
(a) Main control module. A system menu is displayed by which the user can select operational functions and build system branches and links.
(b) Look-up module. The desired records are found through the specific look-up value of each term. If the record exists, the system notes whether there are revisions, if the record doesn't exist, the system tells whether it has been added to the database. The user can change or add the records as needed.
(c) Tracer module. When searching for data that should have arrived but hasn't, this module makes it convenient to make inquiries to relevant organizations.
(d) Statistics module. Statistics are kept on order forms and examination and acceptance data. Examination and acceptance statistics are divided into conference records, books, and other categories.
(e) Bulletin module. This module sends timely notifications on new information to the reader enabling the reader to see the new information as quickly as possible.
(f) Deletion module. This module keeps the database in order. It can delete records one at a time, or in batches (under prescribed conditions it deletes all unneeded records at once) in order to guarantee the dynamic equilibrium of the scale of the database.
(g) Printer module. This module prints information order forms and look-up service cards. A card or order form of any type can be printed many times in succession.
(h) Accounting module. Material account records made from the data in the computer are put into an account record format. If the process starts at the first line, the system prints the record heading and proceeds from there, and if not from the first line, it starts with the line number, and then, when it reaches the end of the page, it automatically turns the page, records the record heading and proceeds again.
(i) Budget module. This module computes the expenditure for material actually received within a specified time, and performs research analysis on the material prices.
(j) Database module. This is used for building the database.
Figure 7.1 System Structure Diagram
[figure omitted]3. System Features
(1) The system is used by information collection operators of intelligence elements and libraries.
(2) It is menu driven, has strong dialog functions, and is easy to use and master.
(3) The database has protective functions, and it is easy to fix when something goes wrong.
(4) Besides Western languages, Chinese, Japanese and Russian can be used on the system.
(5) It can be used on microcomputers, it doesn't cost much, and it has wide applicability.
Table: Database StructureNumber Term Information category Width 1 PM (Article title or conference title) C 100 2 PMDM (Article title code) C 10 3 FDRQ (Order date) C 8 4 DHRQ (Goods received date) C 8 5 CBS(Publisher) C 50 6 GRZZ (Individual writer) C 20 7 SSH (Book search number) C 15 8 JGBGH (Organization report number) C 25 9 CBNY (Publication, year, month) C 8 10 LYDH (Source number) C 20 11 DGJG (Goods order price) C 10 12 DGSL (Goods order quantity) C 6 13 DHSL (Goods received quantity) C 6 14 YS (Page number) C 4 15 HYRQ (Conference date) C 14 16 HYDZ (Conference location) C 154. Operational Effectiveness of the System
The development of this system was completed and put into use in November 1985. Practice has shown that it fulfills design requirements and gets positive results.
(1) It has greatly increased look-up speed and saves search time. It requires only two seconds to search nearly 10,000 records.
(2) It has more search forms. Look-up forms have increased from the two former article name and organization report number to sixteen forms, including dates and goods-order numbers.
(3) It has solved many problematical manual procedures, for example, in using cards in the catalogue look-up, if the card placement is incorrect it is difficult to find anything and that results in superfluous ordering of goods. With this system the card placement doesn't matter, everything can be found.
(4) It reduces duplication of labor. The computer rapidly prints out order forms, service cards and material records from the information in the database. Triplicate copies no longer have to be typed out manually.
(5) It has increased work quality and effectiveness. It used to be difficult to find order forms for material that had not arrived after long periods, and one could only wait passively for the material to arrive. This system makes old records easy to find and makes active tracing possible, which increases the goods delivery rate and raises the quality of information collection.
(6) It increases the information utilization rate. Bulletins announcing the arrival of new material are quickly produced by this system, which enables the reader to view the material at least two months earlier than in the past.
(7) In order to create the conditions for improving information collection services, the total body of data in the database is available for analysis of the promptness of delivery, publisher prices and inflation laws, and the findings can be used for follow-on improvements.
Collection management systems are now being used in China, and in addition to the DAMMS at the China National Defense S&T Data Center, Guizhou University has developed a Chinese periodicals acquisition microcomputer management system as well, and many other intelligence elements, libraries and information service units are actively developing or have already developed collection management systems of their own.
The use of computers for information collection management got off to a late start in China, and the level of technology and degree of application is also higher abroad than in China. The U.S. Library Automated Management Corporation has developed the LIBS system, and the TULIP system at Tsukuba University in Japan is now in use.
III. Strategic Intelligence Resources Database System
The strategic intelligence resource database system was designed to meet the needs of the China National Defense S&T Data Center's intelligence researchers in their strategic research on weapons facilities development, and the needs of information collection operators in developing strategic information resources. Its purpose is to help intelligence researchers find the information they need for their own research subjects as quickly as possible; and to help information collectors to study, understand and master the circumstances, special features and publication rules of foreign strategic information resources.
The system uses the DBASE III compiler program and the new Chinese character system on an IBM-PC/XT computer. It has good man/machine dialog functions, wide search range, and clean, neat and succinct language and wording standards. It completes work that is difficult to accomplish by hand, and it's far more effective.
This strategic intelligence resources database system is the product of applied research conducted by collection science researchers. They combined new concepts in collection science research with database technology. It is cleverly conceived, inventive, has its own style and has good practical value.
1. System Design Ideas
The system is based on the latest research results and concepts in information science and collection science of recent years. Those results and concepts were employed in designing the system, including the intelligence resources and information resources concepts that grew out of intelligence and information research, the development of principles concerning the particular needs of strategic intelligence researchers, maximum savings in labor, networking concepts, directed and active collection, combining of negatives and positives, and overt information that can satisfy over 80 percent of consumer's intelligence requirements. What all this signifies is that the strategic intelligence resources database system is the applied result of collection science research.
(1) Intelligence researchers' requirements are characteristically problem oriented and needed on short notice, unlike the forecasted medium- and long-range requirements that are worked into a collection plan and pursued through active collection of foreign information resources, therefore, in solving their near-term problems they have to rely mainly on their daily accumulations and searches done at the intelligence center and on the collections of fraternal elements. There isn't time to fill their requirements by looking for the relevant information from foreign sources. Therefore, a way must be found for the "database" to clearly contain the collections of relevant elements for their own use.
(2) Intelligence researchers are primarily engaged in strategic development research, and their information requirements gradually become more and more comprehensive. Nor are their requirements limited to military and defense matters, but their information needs extend to aspects of government, economic, S&T, law, and research on national and international affairs. Therefore the scope of interest of elements associated with the activities of the local Center need to broaden the "database" and it should contain information on international affairs and relevant organizations.
(3) Over 80 percent of all consumer requirements can be satisfied by overt information, therefore if all of the information collected through whatever channels by all elements were put together to form a consultation network of shared information, under existing conditions researchers requirements could for the most part be satisfied. The relevant elements need only to be brought into the network and then they would be happy to lend their information collections to the building of a database.
(4) One of the laws that emerged from research on consumer intelligence requirements was the "maximum labor saving law" of consumer intelligence work. The problem they encounter is that after beginning the search for information near at hand, they always end up having to search in ever farther and more difficult places. If the "database" could select and supply everyone with the subject-title record of the information collected by many organizations sharing common interests, it would greatly reduce the time and energy of their information searches. One of the ideas incorporated in the "database" design was to satisfy psychologically and in actuality the consumers' needs expressed by this law of intelligence work.
(5) Although the system works on a microcomputer and doesn't yet have full text storage, there is no great need for that, and to build an intermediate intelligence resource database amenable to the spirit of saving time and effort and satisfying the needs of researchers is something that can be done. The data collections of all associated elements in the "database" are all in the form of subject-title records that only provide a lead to the information. It is not duplicated storage, and whenever necessary the record can be borrowed for viewing by the relevant element. This is again the collection policy of combined positives and negatives.
(6) When it is necessary to do active collection, or when the collector is specifically directed to proceed further with current collection, then it is clearly understood, with no uncertainties, that the search needs to progress to domestic and foreign information sources, be it an "organization" or a "scientist." The "database" is to be used as a reference book, and it ascertains the existence of relevant information sources and the relevant information.
(7) The arrangement of the data items in the "database" should be based on and reference the information as described in the conjoined "intelligence resources" and "information resources' research.
(8) Inasmuch as the "intelligence resources" and the "information resources" are dynamic in nature, the "database" system should be designed to function dynamically, and it should be easily revised and expanded.
2. System Structure and Functions
The strategic intelligence database system is composed of four sub-databases in the structure depicted in the following illustration.
Figure 7.2 System Structure Diagram
[figure omitted](1) The Collection of Relevant Information from Domestic Information Resources by the Sub-Databases
The data leads recorded in those databases are not for the data kept at the local Center because that data is at hand for machine or manual investigative lookup and retrieval. What they record are the leads to the data collections of other information resources that are of interest to intelligence researchers of the China National Defense S&T Data Center. The data leads contained in the sub-databases have been selected, collated, processed and keyed to the governmental, economic, military, S&T and legal aspects of developing strategic issues. They contain eight data items: collection element, document search number, title, translation title, author, year of publication, page number and subject. They can display and print all of the new relevant data leads for the collection of any element, and according to the subject, year of publication and author, they can display and print the data leads in a sub-database that fall within the range of that subject, year of publication or author. If the consumer already knows the title, the consumer can find out what domestic element has that material, and the consumer can go to the relevant element by means of the document search number and ask to view the material.
Sub-databases are mainly for the use of intelligence researchers, and they are also of value for the collection operators' understanding of the circumstances of the collections of other elements. Consumers can peruse the data in another unit's collection without leaving their own areas, and they can determine their own needs, which makes their work so much easier. It speeds up the delivery of information and markedly increases the information utilization rate.
(2) The Sub-Database for Domestic Information Resources
This database provides an understanding of the services of domestic information resources (intelligence organizations and research units) that relate to the affairs of the China National Defense S&T Data Center, and it is convenient for making contacts, collection, and making requests to review material. It contains nine items of data: organization names, addresses, telephone numbers, responsible persons, nature of missions, service organizations, collection data, magnetic tapes and publications. It can display or print its data resource items according to locations or names of organizations.
(3) The Sub-Database for Foreign Data Resources
This database is primarily for the collection operator's understanding, research and development of relevant foreign data resource services, and it is also of value to intelligence researchers in learning the activities of relevant organizations and circumstances of publications. It holds the daily accumulations of the research efforts of collectors and their files. After any year of assiduous effort it can serve as a reference book. This database contains 12 items of data: organization names, addresses, cable and telephone numbers, histories of changes and developments, nature of missions, distinguishing features, leadership organizations, financial circumstances, primary activities, publications, and databases. It can display or print out certain data resource items according to locations and names of organizations.
(4) The Sub-Database for Eminent Foreign Persons
This sub-database is set up for learning the circumstances of foreign authors, specialists and academicians. It contains names and surnames, sex, biographical notes, work and home addresses, occupations, achievements, writings, range of primary activities, recent work circumstances, and whether they have visited China. It can display or print out all information according to name and whatever the database contains according to special subject category numbers, and the circumstances of all persons engaged in any special activity.