Lagos, Nigeria

Whether you are self-driving or using a driver route analysis and route selection are key elements of your security when moving around your overseas location.  Route selection is important because:

It allows you to avoid known danger areas such as high-crime neighborhoods or to implement countermeasures if the area is unavoidable.

Provides you with alternate routes to avoid time and place predictability.
Helps you identify choke points and other potential attack sites so that you can raise your awareness level in these areas.
Helps you identify zones of predictability that you must pass through regardless of the route you use.  Your origin point and destination are two zones of predictability but there may be others.
Allows you to identify safe havens along the route that can be utilized if needed.
Some quick definitions

For our purposes here I am going to use the following definitions — some in the security field define these terms in slightly different ways but for clarity’s sake I will define them as follows:

Choke Point:  a choke point is an area where your movement is restricted or inhibited and must be used when on a specific route.

Zone of Predictability: an area that you must pass through regardless of what route you use.

Potential Attack Site:  a location along the route where conditions favor an attacker an where attackers might reasonable set-up an ambush.  These locations may be choke points or zones of predictability.

Safe Haven:  a safe have is a location along your route where you can seek assistance if you are being attacked or pursued or if you are in need of medical assistance or other support.  They are typically characterized by good levels of security and multiple means of communications.  Examples might be police stations, military barracks, fire stations or hospitals.

The first stage of a route analysis is a thorough map reconnaissance to determine potential routes between the point of origin and destination.  When ever possible its best to use two or more maps of the same area to compare features to get the most accurate picture.  Large scale maps with lots of detail are best if available.  Online mapping and satellite imagery tools like Google Earth are also great to incorporate.

Once you have plotted the potential routes on the map you should drive them — ideally several times at the different hours of the day that you will be traveling.  This will let you verify the observations that you made on your map recon and also will let you see traffic flow at various points on the routes.  You can also verify the location and accessibility of safe havens you have identified, etc.   During this phase you may also want to time the different routes at different hours of the day.

The degree of detail you go into on route analysis will vary depending on a number of factors:

Duration of time you are spending at the location may dictate the level of depth.  If you are there for weeks or months it may make more sense to do a detailed study versus only staying for a few days.
Likelihood of being specifically targeted.  Obviously if you know or think there is a real risk you may be specifically targeted then you need to concentrate on route variance and will likely want to invest the time to do a detailed route analysis.
General security environment.  Even if you are not especially concerned about being specifically targeted it is still reasonable you will  want to do a more detailed route analysis in a higher threat environment.
Route Selection Considerations:


Generally major roads with free flowing traffic are preferable to smaller side streets where may be easier for assailants to ambush you.  This may not always be true depending on local traffic patterns.
Routes should avoid or at least minimize the need to drive through identified danger areas like high crime neighborhoods and other known threat locations.
Choose routes that avoid choke points to the degree possible.
Zones of predictability and choke points should at least provide good observation when possible.
Routes will multiple safe havens located on them are preferable.
By carefully selecting multiple routes and identifying key features on them you can greatly enhance your personal security when in transit.

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