Baseline for a location

Baselining a Location

The goal is to use observations to quickly establish “what is going on” when you go to a new environment.  Learning to recognize the patterns and dynamics that will help you determine if a location is safe. We are going to begin to break down the process for baselining a location by looking at the following areas or aspects of the environment. 

  1. General Atmosphere
  2. Noise Level
  3. Rule of Law
  4. Activity – Level & Type
  5. Iconography
  6. Emotion 

General Atmosphere

The General Atmosphere can be categorized as either a Positive or Negative atmosphere.

Positive:  a basic sense of security that you have about a situation or place.  The feeling that an area is safe or non threatening will be based upon an intuitive feeling that you have upon entering the space. 

  1. Orderliness – clean, well maintained, cared for.

Negative: a basic sense of the lack of security that you feel about a situation or place. The feeling that an area is threatening or unsafe based upon the intuitive feeling that you have upon entering the space. 

  1. Orderliness – dirty, unkept, equipment not maintained, uncared for. 

This has also been called the “vibe” of the place.  Note: as we discussed earlier in this lesson the importance of listening to your inner voice can not be stressed enough. If your body or intuition tells you an area is not safe, Listen to it. 

Noise Level:

The noise level can be loud or quiet what you are looking for here is it a happy loud or a hostile loud and conversely a forced quiet or a calm quiet.

Positive: If the area is loud it is a happy, energetic manner. Laughter etc

If the area is quiet it is a calm quiet.  

Negative: If the area is loud, it has a confrontational or hostile tone.  

Rule of Law  

 Is the relationship of people and general rule of law.  Are the people in the location.  The general cooperation of individuals and groups of individuals with known rule of law or accepted behavior for the location. 

Positive: individuals and groups act orderly, follow norms of behavior, rule of law and or acceptable behavior for the location. 

Negative: individuals and groups act in a hostile, uncontrolled or chaotic manner, do not follow rule of law and/or acceptable norms of behavior. 


What general activity is happening at the location, it can be a high activity or a low activity.  It can be shopping in the case of a mall or walking from one class to another in the case of a campus.   


The individual or groups are performing the same general activity as others in the environment.  For the mall example you could have shopping, walking, eating in the food court.  


The individual or groups are engaged in activity outside the general activity that the others in the area or environment are not.  For the mall example could have loitering, being hostile or disorderly, activity outside social norms. 

Iconography (Visual representations) 

Iconography is any visual messaging in the environment or on an individual the identification, description and interpretation of the content of visual imagery. Some examples are logos, tattoos, team jerseys, art and marketing materials. 


Positive messages and imagery, welcoming messages.


Negative belief messages, gang affiliation, imagery showing who is unwelcome.


Evaluating the collective emotion of the location and the individuals in it.

Generally categorized by the basic human emotions.


Neutral:  No emotion

Happy: Feelings of contentment or pleasure.


Surprise: Feeling of something unexpected occurring. 

Sad: Feelings of sorrow or unhappy

Fear: unpleasant feelings caused by belief something is dangerous or a threat.

Most locations will normally have a neutral or happy feeling of emotion otherwise most people would avoid going to the location.

In the next video you will see a location, using the information above watch the video in its entirety, make notes as you go on the areas of interest to create your baseline.