Intelligence (information gathering)

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Definition

Intelligence (abbreviated int. or intel.) is information valued for its currency and relevance rather than its detail or accuracy —in contrast with "data" which typically refers to precise or particular information, or "fact," which typically refers to verified information. Sometimes called "active data" or "active intelligence", these typically regard the current plans, decisions, and actions of people, as these may have urgency or may otherwise be considered "valuable" from the point of view of the intelligence-gathering organization. Active intelligence is treated as a constantly mutable component, or variable, within a larger equation of understanding the secret, covert, or otherwise private "intelligence" of an opponent, or competitor, to answer questions or obtain advance warning of events and movements deemed to be important or otherwise relevant.

As used by intelligence agencies and related services, "intelligence" refers integrally to both active data as well as the process and the result of gathering and analyzing such information, as these together form a cohesive network (cf. "hive mind"). In a sense, this usage of "intelligence" at the national level may be somewhat associated with the concept of social intelligence —albeit one which is tied to localized or nationalist tradition, politics, law, and the enforcement thereof.

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