A Series of Cognitive Frameworks for Police RTCC: 01 - OODA

How might cognitive frameworks help people who work inside police "real-time crime centers?" 

To me, it's about putting people, ideas, & pieces of technology together in ways that enhance awareness, sense-making & decision-making. 

The first framework I'll introduce is Boyd's OODA.

OBSERVE: These are the individual sensors, alerts, notifications, camera feeds, & info sources that make their way in front of a human. We are getting better at leveraging technology to automate this process. It's like multiplying our eyes & ears out there in the field. This is NOT situational awareness; it's simply receiving inputs.

ORIENT: This is the contextual understanding of "so what" when a sensor gets triggered or some other information comes in. This is where Intelligence sits, as a form of individual & organizational understanding, sense-making, & pattern discernment. It helps answer "why does this matter?" Without background, new information is relatively useless. (Algorithms are also housed here, helping process raw hashtag#data into patterns, trends, or models.) The layering of geo-spatial & geo-temporal data helps with this orientation by visualizing links via space & time. Dashboards can also help contextualize data or give the data some meaning.  

DECIDE: This is more about hypothesis generation than it is about making decisions. This is where strategy comes in to guide options or alternatives. Strategy informs us what sorts of interventions to take - at both the information/cognitive front (such as where or how to seek more information), as well as the physical/kinetic front. We begin to run mental simulations that will feed back to Observe -- cycling through hashtag#predictions on what interventions or queries to make next. 

ACT: This is where the Decision is put into play. It can be a kinetic/physical act ... or can be a mental act in pursuit of more information, different information, contextual relevance, or meaning. 

And all along, the "Implicit Guidance & Control" pathways are working subconsciously, under the surface, based on internalized mental models, conditioning, & understanding. 

It's a never-ending corkscrewing through time... 

The above is often a delicate balance between speed & accuracy. It's not always a tradeoff, but frequently is.

Between RTCC & Intelligence functions, organizational OODA can be "greased" so that any friction, fog, or sticking points are reduced -- giving us a Win-Win of good info in a timely manner. And when police agencies are operating under well-designed operational strategy, we can further reduce friction in the hypothesis & selection stage. (Recognition-Primed Decision-Making, anyone?) 

I could talk about OODA's applications here all day long!! 


What other cognitive frameworks would you like to see applied to RTCC? And I'm going to use the term "framework" quite loosely in this... and include all sorts of models, theories, infographics, and whatnot.

I've got a few others queued up. I've even created a tag for this series


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a detective supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. He's focused on multi-jurisdictional crime patterns & intelligence, through organic working groups compromised of investigators & analysts from a variety of agencies. With a passion for training, he studies human performance, decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, & adaptability. In 2021, he went back to college (remotely!), in hopes to finally finish his undergrad degree from the University of Illinois - Gies College of Business. Follow Lou on LinkedIn, & also the LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model***


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