In our context of Intelligence Gathering in Order to Survive the Modern World in South Africa, gathering Human Intelligence or HUMINT, is as easy as having a Conversation with a Person.
Of course it is a bit more complicated, but the root of the methods is to have a chat and Listen Attentively.
Firstly you have to choose the right people to speak to. This is called Identifying a Source. Here you have to use your common sense and Intelligence already available to you to Identify the right Source to speak to.
Keep in mind that if you are looking for Intelligence on Crime in your locations you might have to talk to Criminals in order to gain useful Intelligence. The friends and Family of Criminals as well as People that Hang Out in places frequented by Criminals can also be good Sources. However, not all Sources of Crime Intelligence will be Criminals. In many cases law abiding citizens see or hear things that can be very important in Preventing Crime from Happening or in Investigation of Crime.
You have to Build a Relationship with your Source. This relationship can be based on Friendship, Fear, Mutual Interest, or any other Human Emotions. If it is a Fear Based relationship it would mean that you might be threatening the Source or using violence – this is against the law and is not the way to go about gathering Human Intelligence. Use Positive Emotions to build your relationship and don’t break the law in the process.
Always remember that you, as a Safety Conscious Citizen, Neighbourhood Watch member etc, is NOT a Law Enforcement Official and you should not cross over to their domain. Your personal Safety and that of your Family comes 1st.
After a conversation with a Source, immediately note down the information in a notebook or on your smartphone. If you wait too long you will forget crucial details.
Always try to, at least, answer the questions: Who, What, When, Where, How.
Get into the Habit of asking people you meet questions. If your concern is the Crime in your neighbourhood – get into conversations with people you meet at the Supermarket, at your kid’s school, at the bar … everywhere. Tell them that you are concerned about Criminals Targeting your neighbourhood and ask them if they heard anything about the crime in that area. If they respond with some information, even if they heard it from another source, ask them if they know Who did it, What exactly happened, When did it Happen, Where exactly did it Happen and How did it Happen.
Intelligence is not only useful in Crime related areas but can also help you to Survive during or After a Natural Disaster of course. Let’s say there was a hurricane in your area and you are a small group or family trying to survive. Speaking to People can lead you to safe Water Sources, sources of Food and Shelter etc.
For our purposes this should be enough. You will be amazed with the Intelligence you can gather in this way and you will be amazed at how much some people want someone who is willing to listen to a story that they overheard. Simple conversations and asking a few questions can make you Prove Superior over Criminals or the Elements.
Of course you will have to analyse the intelligence that you gather to make sense of it, but that is an article for another day.