Pros vs Cons of Tagging, Tracking, and Locating Operations

              Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and so is the need for timely and accurate collection of raw data to analyze into more detailed intelligence.  Tagging, Tracking and Locating (TTL) operations are one of the many collection methods used to enhance the capabilities of many intelligence collection operations.  However, there are many pros and cons in the world of TTL:


Pattern of Life: TTL operations can be used to build a pattern of life on a client over an extended period of time without the use of a physical surveillance team.  A TTL device can monitor and record a client’s movements 24 hours a day, for the length of the device’s battery, which is likely not feasible with a human surveillance team.  Many TTL devices can be programmed to conserve their battery consumption through a “sleep” mode that will be activated when the device hasn’t sensed motion for a programmed period of time.

Less Man Hours: The use of a TTL device can greatly expand your team’s capabilities of covering multiple clients at the same time.  Your team can conduct physical surveillance of one client while still monitoring the movement of another.  Many man-hours are wasted watching a car parked in a driveway that never moves.  A surveillance team could react to a TTL device’s movement and conduct physical surveillance only on client’s that have departed their residence that day.

Behavioral Patterns for Picket Surveillance: The use of a TTL device can give you a general analysis of your client’s daily behavioral patterns.  After an extended pattern analysis of your client’s movements, your team can better predict future movements and better operate a picket surveillance on your client.  The collection of a pattern analysis will also increase your team’s ability to locate a client that has been lost during a surveillance.  If a pattern analysis has been determined that your client’s car is parked in the parking lot associated with a particular restaurant every Wednesday at noon and you lose your client while mobile at 1145am, your analysis would tell you to start your search in the vicinity of said restaurant.


No Observation: The use of a TTL device enables your team to either conduct physical surveillance from a distance or not conduct physical surveillance at all.  Under these circumstances, your client will not be under observation at all times during a physical surveillance.  At times, this could enable your client to conduct activities that your team will not observe.

No Behavior Analysis Collected: A location/pattern analysis can be collected from the raw data obtained through the use of a TTL device but this raw data will not produce any behavior information.  You might gather a general location of the device but will not know if your client made contact with any associates or any business conducted.  You will most likely not be able to obtain the driving pattern or traffic patterns during this analysis.  The behavior of your client or their associates will not be collected either.

Car Location/Not Person Location: A TTL device will tell you the location of the device which will more than likely tell you the location of your client’s car.  This data will however, not tell you where your client’s exact location is.  If your client parks on one street and walks to another, you won’t have that data or location.  This collected data would only give you a general analysis and not specific locations.

Battery Life: Depending on the level of the TTL operation and the accessibility of the client’s car, most TTL devices will be quickly attached to a vehicle and use an internal battery pack to power the device.  Some devices can be hard wired into the vehicle and operate off the vehicle’s power source.  Depending on the parameters set for the TTL device, the battery length can vary.  If a device is set to provide constant updates of its location, the battery pack will last far less than if the device is programmed to update its location once an hour.

Lost Device If Dead Battery without a Pattern of Life: If a detailed pattern analysis hasn’t been conducted of your client and the battery pack runs dead, there is a possibility that you may lose your TTL device.  It is important that you have a constant residence or workplace of your client so you can recover the device when needed.

Compromise: If your TTL device is discovered on the client’s car by the client, you stand a pretty good chance that your case is going to be compromised.  If your client already suspects that they are being surveilled and are fully aware they are a criminal, locating a TTL device on their car will most likely spook them to change their patterns.

In summary, although there are a few “cons” to the TTL collection world, TTL devices can gather important information on the habits of a client that would normally take many man-hours for a physical surveillance team to conduct.  The early use of a TTL device to gather a basic pattern of life on your client will help tremendously in regards to knowing where to start your search pattern for a lost client.  This data collection can also assist in the planning of what hours to conduct a physical surveillance of a certain person.

In the end, TTL operations are not the answer to everything but when used properly, they can provide raw intelligence to assist in further physical surveillance operations.



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