Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior

RAND monograph by John Hollywood, Diane Snyder, Kenneth McKay, John Boon

This monograph presents a unique approach to “connecting the dots” in intelligence—selecting and assembling disparate pieces of information to produce a general understanding of a threat. Modeled after key thought processes used by successful and proactive problem solvers to identify potential threats, the schema described in this document identifies out-of-the-ordinary, atypical behavior that is potentially related to terror activity; seeks to understand the behavior by putting it into context; generates and tests hypotheses about what the atypical behavior might mean; and prioritizes the results, focusing analysts’ attention on the most significant atypical findings. In addition to discussing the schema, this document describes a supporting conceptual architecture that dynamically tailors the analysis in response to discoveries about the observed behavior and presents specific techniques for identifying and analyzing out-of-the-ordinary information.