Earlier, PVH discussed what a baseline was, and how to establish one. His suggestion was to observe and establish patterns. Jason Riley later defined how we use the domains to establish patterns.
This article builds off of both articles, but I will discuss a different technique to establish a baseline.
In order for this method to be effective, the observer must have a good understanding of each domain. This will allow the observer to constantly analyze the information he is receiving. To prevent “information overload” we must be methodical in our approach. Here’s how.
As you enter your area of observation, quickly perform a scan for any immediate threats. In this case, anything that can cause harm to you, anyone else, or your mission. Look for weapons, aggressive posturing, or anyone observing you. Start close and finish far. This is important, because the closer a threat is, the less reaction time you are given. As a result, threats that are closer to you are usually a higher priority.
Now you are prepared to start establishing a baseline.
First, take your environment, and strip away all human factors. Look at every single object, as a fact. A park bench, a tree, a sidewalk, a light post, etc. Once you have an understanding of the geographical layout of your environment, you can start making assumptions. Assumptions are the expected human behaviors, or environmental factors. For example:
FACT: A bus stop.
ASSUMPTION: People will sit on the bench to wait for the bus.
However, a deeper understanding of the profiling domains will allow you to make further, more accurate assumptions.
FACT: A bus stop.
ASSUMPTION: People will sit and stand around the bus stop waiting for their bus (Geographics, Habitual Area). They will sit close to people they know, and away from those they don’t. They will be closer to people with whom they feel more comfortable, which is most likely someone who is “like them” (Proxemics). They will look at their watches as they are waiting (Kinesics). Their behavior will immediately shift as the bus approaches (Atmospherics).
The next step is to compare your assumptions with actual human behavior. Are people acting they way you assumed? If not, observe again, make note of actual human behavior, so that you can anticipate the behavior of another person. This is pattern recognition.
Once you have scanned the area, and made a list of FACTS and ASSUMPTIONS on every person, that is your baseline. When a person is not acting in accordance with your assumptions, then you have identified your anomaly.
In order for this to happen quickly you must have the empirical knowledge, or knowledge based on experience. You can gain experience by the time we spend observing, or by observing a similar type of area.
If you are operating without empirical knowledge, the least you can do is have secondhand knowledge. Which is knowledge passed down from another person, or written material.
Next time you are at the grocery store, see if you can anticipate the behavior of a shopper. Make assumptions based off of facts, such as if they grab a small basket as opposed to a cart. Confirm your assumptions.
Practice and share your thoughts.