Intelligence Fusion Employee Spotlight: Megan Broughton
Meet our newest recruit, Megan Broughton.
Megan began her Intelligence Fusion journey as an intern back in 2018. The senior management, and Megan's team mates, quickly recognised her determination, drive and capability and she officially joined IF as a full-time Regional Analyst earlier this year.
This month, we shine the spotlight on Megan, her role and what working in the industry means to her.
What’s your role at Intelligence Fusion?
I'm the Regional Analyst for North America; my role principally involves monitoring current affairs across the continent and ensuring that incidents are reported and mapped onto our platform. Major and ongoing incidents require updating frequently, particularly as different information sources sometimes contradict each other, so I'll check for corroboration between news sites, databases and social media posts.
Many of the incidents I focus on also have a trans-border reach. In these cases, it's important to understand the impacts they may have on different stakeholders and industries, so I keep track of casualty figures and actors and update them further as more information becomes available.
Intelligence Fusion has a strong focus on the visualisation of data, so with the introduction of the new ‘themes’ feature I have been increasingly producing hotspot maps of incidents that fall under distinct categories. Recently, this has included spending time producing hotspot maps of migration and drug trafficking incidents at the US-Mexico Border.
With the combination of recent and historical data, this can not only provide clients with a more convenient display of trends, but also helps to highlight areas of further focus for myself.
How long have you worked here?
I started working for Intelligence Fusion as an intern in August 2018 and have been a Regional Analyst since February 2019.
What first attracted you to Intelligence Fusion?
I studied Geography at university, so have always had an interest in ‘seeing the bigger picture’ behind major topics. However, when it came to job hunting, I found that many roles were restricted to a more-narrow area of focus, often from the perspective of a single country or stakeholder.
In comparison, Intelligence Fusion has a diverse and global client base requiring access to up-to-date intelligence on a wide range of areas. This allows me to explore a wide range of topics from natural disasters to terrorism and crime patterns. I can be writing up reports on an earthquake in Puerto Rico one day and then producing a hotspot map of gun crime in Chicago the next!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Each morning I always check news sites for high-profile incidents that require reporting first. Since team members usually start work at different times (so we can provide a better coverage of incidents due to time-zone differences) I know I can always rely on them to alert me to major incidents that have occurred before I start work. Likewise, if someone is out of the office, we often make sure we have coordinated to provide coverage for their area of focus in the morning. Once all of the high-profile incidents are on the system, I generally have a list of areas I will work through over the day to report incidents for. This list is based on where clients hold particular security interests. For me, this has included a focus on major US and Canadian cities (New York City, Washington DC, Toronto), the US-Mexico border (and cities located here) and even areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. When I report an incident for which we have a specific theme, I will make sure it is grouped in so it can be seen in relation to trends. During my lunch break I often find myself reading into some of the most interesting incidents further!
I also monitor one of Intelligence Fusion’s social media accounts and make sure to keep it updated with our analyses of significant incidents. This is typically done later in the day so I can better reach a North American-based audience due to the time-zone difference. I normally finish the day by revising incidents I have marked as ongoing. In some cases, it is possible to add an incidents conclusion time, while continuing incidents can be updated with more recent casualty figures, actors and further intelligence.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the fact that no day is ever the same! Due to the nature of the role, you can never be sure when a high-profile incident will occur, so it is always exciting to be monitoring different sources for further updates that can be added. This has recently held true for a number of industrial incidents involving major petrochemical companies across Texas.
I really enjoy being able to work with a diverse and very knowledgeable team too; everyone is always on hand to provide advice and even just lighten up the mood from time-to-time when we are dealing with some serious incidents.
What do you like most about working in this industry?
By nature, work in the intelligence industry is very varied and while it sounds cliché, there is a strong sense that the work you are doing is very meaningful. With the present-day trend of escalating global threats, it's always positive to know that through working in the intelligence sector you are doing your part to reduce and mitigate some of these risks.
What were you doing before you took on your current role?
Before working with Intelligence Fusion, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Geography at Cambridge University and spent some time working as a GIS Technician for a traffic orders company.
What advice do you have for prospective interns or analysts?
Firstly, I would really recommend reading around your area of coverage beyond what is required just to report incidents. As an intern I frequently found out that many major political developments would ‘spawn’ related incidents- a trend that has been particularly pronounced when dealing with protests and cross-border migration!
I'd also really encourage new interns and analysts to make use of advice from the Senior Regional Analysts. Not only does this make reporting more accurate, but it often opens up interesting discussions over some of the current situations.
In your opinion, what sets Intelligence Fusion apart from other providers?
Intelligence Fusion places emphasis on the human element of intelligence. This means that rather than simply collecting data using algorithms, sources can be assessed and graded for reliability and incidents can be updated in real time. This also has strong benefits in terms of ensuring intelligence is accurate; an analyst with experience in their area of coverage is able to spot whether an incident is genuine- an important consideration in the age of social media and misinformation.
How have you seen the company evolve since you first started?
When I first started working as an intern, the Intelligence Fusion 1 platform was still running! Within a few months the current second-generation platform was brought in, and since then new features have been added at a frequent pace.
As a company, Intelligence Fusion has increasingly focussed on ensuring that intelligence is of greater value to clients who may be required to act on it; the new themes feature and ability to view incident statistics is testament to this.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about your job?
As a company that deals with intelligence and security, it’s easy to assume that we spend all day focusing on negative events that go on in the world.
In reality, I've found that my work has brought to light how much change is actually going on in the world - whether I’m reporting on protests aiming to counter femicide in Mexico or seeing crime rates fall in New York due to new policing initiatives.
If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
Jim Bridenstine - the Administrator of NASA. I have always been interested in space exploration and the technological advances that can benefit humanity. NASA recently accepted the challenge to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024, so it’s an exciting field to work in at the moment.
How would you describe your team in three words?
Motivated, knowledgeable and supportive.
What is something you learned in the last week?
The Yellow Vests protests are widespread in Canada, as well as Europe.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I'm not working, I like to spend time outdoors on my mountain bike - even if it's raining!
What is something that not many people know about you?
I have a 1637-track playlist that I started creating in Spring 2017. When I get bored of listening the more recent tracks I go back and listen to the ones I added two years ago.
You can follow Megan's updates and analysis over on Twitter, @IFNorthAmerica.