Friday, June 22, 2012

What is Media Battle-Space Awereness?

Jeff Brown, Senior Operations Research Systems Analyst at Leonie Industries. Jeff will be presenting at the London IO Global conference, 26-29 June 2012, along with Bill Balkovetz and Ronald Walters. ( Next week is the IQPC's annual London Information Operations (IO) Global Conference. The theme of this year's gathering of IO experts and in the field practitioners is ‘Delivering Effects through Influence Activity’. Leonie is a co-sponsor and in accordance with this theme, will be presenting on the subject of 'Media Battle-Space Awareness' to answer the question: “What role should the Information Operations community play in combating the influence of extremist groups and how can progress in this area best be monitored?”

What is MBSA and how did the concept come about? 

Leonie Media Battle-Space Awareness (MBSA) Teams enhance the existing Information Operations (IO) process by combining Operational Visualization with Geospatial Analytics in order to empower IO planners and leaders with more effective planning, dissemination and assessment of their engagement campaigns. MBSA was developed in response to challenges the Task Force faced while trying to measure the effects of their information battle-space operations in response to queries from highest leadership and funding decision makers. Prior to MBSA, the main source of assessments were surveys that measured perceptions and attitudes on a variety of subjects related to the task force goals but provided little quantifiable evidence of effect. MBSA provided a coherent geospatial and temporal display of a variety of data sources in order to examine interactions that were not previously discernible. The MBSA process showed immediate significant value-added, not only during assessment, but also in planning and dissemination. MBSA was quickly adopted and incorporated into these aspects across Task Force operations.

What do Leonie's MBSA teams do? 

During the planning phase, the MBSA Team assists the Task Force with clarifying objectives, determining the desired effects from those objectives and developing an initial set of indicators, or measures of effectiveness (MOEs), to inform the effects. Additionally, the MBSA team helps to identify the right data needed to analyze the MOEs, identify any data gaps and recommend alternative indicators based on existing data or additional data collection efforts. The output of the planning phase is a baseline visualization of the indicators regarding the intended target audience.

Dissemination has two key components: target audience and medium. During the dissemination phase, the MBSA Team creates geospatial overlays of the engagement campaign (5Ws) and media monitoring in order to gain knowledge of support for and against the issues, themes and messages. Knowing who does not support the issues, themes, messages and how to counter and/or shape their messaging also helps to achieve the desired effect(s). Geographic display of stations, their allegiances/affiliations and where they stand on supporting or disrupting desired effects serves as an overlay to compare or evaluate current engagement strategies. The media monitoring overlay when viewed with the baseline and engagement overlays provides easy ability to confirm or deny the success of the dissemination strategy as well as enable the selection of new dissemination channels. The geospatial visualization of the dissemination plan, MOE and impact indicator data enhance assessments.

During the assessment phase, the MBSA Team conducts geospatial analysis of the various overlays to determine, in relation to the desired effects, the current status of the engagement and the operational environment. From this analysis, the MBSA Team provides conclusions and recommendations as thoughtful, logical guidance back into the Command’s planning efforts and as an input to the Command’s periodic assessment reports.

How does MBSA enhance the current IO process?

MBSA enhances the current IO process by improving situational awareness of the battle-space to a level that enables effective Information Operations and Effect(s) Assessments. MBSA aids in maintaining current knowledge of adversarial and non-adversarial target audiences and what it takes to create an effect within a selected audience. MBSA currently enables Information Operations leaders and planners in countering the influence of extremist groups and in monitoring that progress by combining Geospatial Analysis with rich Operational Visualization, promoting more comprehensive planning with visualization layers, focused target audience characterization and dissemination, and objective assessment of the measured effects of planned operations.


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