We will begin this process with the broadest kind of analysis of our context: observing the political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental developments in society which are relevant to our work, and may impact our security situation.
This can take the form of simply talking to trusted sources and reading the news or undertaking our own, more focused research and investigations. This kind of analysis is common and often informs our activism; by taking a more organised approach to it, it can also inform the decisions we make in relation to our security.
As part of our strategic planning, we should carry out regular and in-depth situational analyses: that is, deliberately identifying the recent developments which are relevant to our work and analysing what they may mean. This will help us position our work and activism within ongoing local, regional, national and global developments, and identify those which may point to changes in our security situation.
It is helpful to think of situational monitoring and analysis as the 'engine' of our security planning, from which we can identify key developments which impact our strategy. Examples of such developments could include:
the appearance of new actors, such as newly elected politicians;
the emergence of new technology, such as methods of electronic surveillance or ways to avoid it;
a change in the discourse of key actors regarding how they view our work.
Regularly analysing such developments with trusted partners is a vital security practice, and also helps us to check our perceptions with those we trust so that we are less likely to suffer from unfounded fears or unrecognised threats.
However we carry out situational monitoring, we should critically consider the sources of our information. Are we getting all our information from one source? If so, can we be sure that source is reliable? If we are relying solely on media reports to determine our security situation, would it benefit us to diversify our sources? Colleagues, friends and partner organisations, as well as academics, experts, friendly authorities and embassies, among others, can be rich sources of contextual information which may be relevant to our strategy and our security
There are a number of frameworks which can be used for situational analysis. Two common types of situation analysis which are often undertaken in the context of strategic planning are a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis, or a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
Try completing a quick PESTLE analysis in the exercise linked below and consider some of the dominant trends and developments in the last 12 months which may impact your security.