You need information to make decisions. You read labels on food products to decide what is best for your particular diet. You read the fine print on financial contracts and so on. You also need information about a pending or occurring crisis. You need real time intelligence.
You are surfing the Internet and stumble across a blog that talks about missing suitcase bombs that contain nuclear waste (dirty bombs). You read the article and note that it references a newspaper article. You have never heard of the newspaper. You make notes about what you have read. You are gathering information about possible threats. You then look at a map of the country and make note of the nearest large city, a city that could be a target. Then you research possible ways to protect yourself against such an attack. You analyze the information and decide the risk is low for now.
You continue to assess risks so you can prepare for the most likely scenario. You cannot prepare for every possibility so you have to concentrate on the most likely, which are still quite considerable.
You have to prepare for the chaos leading up to a disaster, the disaster itself and the aftermath. Perception at some point becomes truth. For example, you are reading a blog about a country proclaiming they cannot account for a nuclear device. The first thought is that the device has been stolen. People do not steal nuclear devices just to admire. Countries do not “lose” devices they are stolen. This is all conjecture at this point of course. However, it is how people perceive information. In a matter of hours, it is stated as fact all over the Internet that a nuclear weapon is loose and detonation is imminent.
Whether it is true or not people will react and you need to have this information to prepare for the chaos. You need to know the rumors the lies, and how people are reacting to the information. The reaction by the populous to a possible disaster is a threat to you. Your community may be overrun by fleeing people because all cities will believe they are the target.
Separating Fact from Fiction
Once again, you turn to information gathering. A device may have been stolen or misplaced but without a trigger or a way to launch a warhead, the device is essentially a large paperweight. The disinformation may have been disseminated on the Internet to evaluate military response, and to create panic among the citizens. First, you realize that no country would admit to losing a device, and if it did, the back channels would be lit up and counter-measures would be activated long before the information reached the public. The simple fact is the government would know of a missile launch capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, long before an Internet blogger would. There are newspapers and bloggers that will publish virtually anything and some people hang on their every word.
Sources for Intelligence Gathering
Obviously, the Internet is one source but you have to shift through the information carefully. Monitoring ham radios and Citizens Band (CB) radios are an excellent source of information Ham radio operators can relay information globally, and are often used to help get information out during a disaster.
Stay current, and pay attention to legislative actions at the local, state and federal levels that may have an effect on your community. Know your, community and states’ disaster preparedness levels. Keep doing risk assessments, but do not allow yourself to become paranoid and realize you cannot be prepared for every specific situation. Prepare in a general sense because regardless of the crisis you will need, shelter, water, fire/energy and food. Once you have determined a specific threat then you can begin working on specifics plans to meet threats that are more explicit.