Information scanning and intelligence

What is information scanning?

Information scanning and intelligence is an important function for all organisations that monitor the human rights situation. It consists of a continuous process of scanning and filtering information sources, such a media or governmental websites, and gathering relevant information that can be used for action and research. It is also known as media monitoring, but the scope of what needs to be monitored is often wider than just the media.

Information scanning in six steps

  1. Scope: defining what information needs to be gathered, and identifying the best sources.
  2. Tools: selecting the right mix of tools to automate this process and make it efficient.
  3. Input: Scanning a number of sources on a regular basis, such as media, NGO websites, blogs, UN websites, court websites, governmental websites, etc.
  4. Processing: Sifting through the information retrieved and retaining the most valuable pieces.
  5. Output: disseminating this information internally, to advocates, managers and researchers, so that it can be used to support analysis and action.
  6. Fine-tuning: regularly evaluating value and relevance of the output and refining the process.

The challenge

With the development of the internet, most of the information sources previously available in print are moving online. This poses new challenges for human rights NGOs to access and process this information efficiently, but also opportunities as well: a set of well-honed tools can automate much of this process and make life easier.

What are we doing?

HURIDOCS provides customized advice to NGOs that wish to start or improve digital information scanning and intelligence activities.

HURIDOCS has also developed two tools to assist NGOs in this type of work:

  • A manual called “Media monitoring, information scanning and intelligence” explains how to set up a monitoring project, and how to use free but powerful tools such as Google Alerts and Google Reader to gather, process, and re-distribute information.
  • The HuriSearch search engine is an example of how a search engine can be useful to search whole lists of carefully selected sources. Its technology is used to power other vertical search engines, such as the NGO-search at Tandis.

Other organisations are also developing tools for monitoring online sources. For example, Development Seed is developing a tool called Managing News that makes it possible to process information from online RSS sources.

Learn more, take action

  • Do you have a media monitoring project, or a regular search and intelligence activity? Would you like to discuss it with us in order to automate some of this work using ICT tools? Do you have experience to share? If so, please contact us.
  • Download our manual Media monitoring, information scanning and intelligence or read it online.


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