OSINT – Open Source Intelligence. It sounds like something the spooks do, and actually it encompasses much of what an intelligence agency does. However, OSINT is at work everywhere: it covers collection of freely accessible data or information, which are then processed and analyzed to gain new insights. By definition, OSINT uses “passive sensors” only: no wiretapping, no hacking, no infiltration, no covert activity of any sort. Eyes and ears only, no hands. Even so, it can yield astonishing results – on a completely legal basis. One only needs to know where to look, and how to connect the dots: solid analyst work.
In August 2010, this blog carried the following:
“…We have been developing and refining what effectively are OSINT capabilities for the past decade. Much of what we have published (…) would not have been identified without this know-how – which is all about identifying, weighing, linking and synthesizing information that is, in principle, in the public domain. It can be challenging – and it also can be fun – to find out that the ‘undisclosed’ drug candidate a developer company referred to in its public statements is, with a high degree of probability, the known compound ‘X.’ Our recently published Drug Repositioning Report contains examples of such burrowing.”
A decade has passed since. What has changed? In essence, not much – because the rules of OSINT as the guiding principles do not change; and because H.M. Pharma Consultancy is in for the long run with whatever it is committed to. However, the tools that we are using have improved considerably.
Ten years ago we collected information in much the same way as today but had analysis capabilities that were limited according to today’s standards. In 2021, all drug development (especially, drug repurposing) information goes into databases which take many forms. They could be general repositories intended for later mining; or project-specific databases which are built for a particular purpose with high development pressure. Although these are tailored we design them in such a way that their contents can be reused later. It still is all OSINT; but now we can gain new insight with a few mouseclicks, from a decades’ worth of information that has been accumulated since – and from all that we had before.
In Big Politics, everybody is watching and analyzing everybody else. HMPC does the same: for drug development insight, for its business – but increasingly because it is … interesting!