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Open-source intelligence is publicly available data that can be used for investigations, often in ways different than originally planned.

For example, footage from urban security cameras can be used to study wildlife and contribute to conservation science. Even though open-source intelligence tools are occasionally used in conservation science, their origins and conceptual foundations are not well understood. In an essay in the journal Conservation Biology, researchers from the USGS and avian conservation organizations consider the history and foundations of open-source intelligence and review its applications in conservation science. The authors present examples of publicly available data, such as social media data or satellite imagery, that can be used to answer questions about environmental crime, human-wildlife interactions, and animal behavior. The essay is among the first to highlight the role of open-source intelligence for conservation science. This review could be relevant to a broad range of researchers looking to fill knowledge gaps that traditional data collection methods may not adequately capture. 

Katzner, T.E., Thomason, E.C., Huhmann, K., Conkling, T.J., Concepcion, C.B., Slabe, V.A., and Poessel, S.A., 2022, Open-Source Intelligence for Conservation Biology: Conservation Biology.