The global intelligence firm Stratfor has published an interesting primer on situational awareness, which is a fancy way of saying that you should pay attention.
The article is based on the obvious premise that most crimes such as kidnapping, robberies and terrorist attacks take several steps to complete, and that if someone is sufficiently aware of their surroundings they can spot the crime unfolding and react. The sharp-eyed street vendor who stopped the Times Square bomb is a perfect example.
Stratfor says that travelers and others who may be in harm’s way must get into the mindset of situational awareness. You should trust your gut instincts because often your subconscious has picked up on something your conscious mind hasn’t had time to process. People should practice being in a state of relaxed awareness similar to defensive driving. Enjoy life, but study your surroundings. Is that protest in front of the government building attracting some angry cops? Is that group of young men staring at you out of more than just curiosity? Who is standing near the ATM you want to use?
Relaxed awareness doesn’t mean being paranoid, it simply means that you should keep your eyes open and your mind active. Enjoy your vacation, but don’t leave your brain at home.
Stratfor has a free weekly newsletter with informative, level-headed articles on topics of interest to travelers and general news junkies, ranging from why we should worry about Al-Shabaab to why the fears over a radioactive “dirty bomb” are mostly hype. More articles and analysis are available through a paid subscription.
Unlike certain news organizations, Stratfor doesn’t exaggerate threats to grab readers. Their articles are meant to make you safer, not make you scared. As they say in the primer, “The world is a wonderful place, but it can also be a dangerous one.”
Words to travel by.
Photo of 2007 Bastille protests courtesy David.Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons.