|This page contains information copied or paraphrased from the OCD FLEET site.|
The nightly news is not enough in this business. In a world where malevolent entities may scheme for centuries but put a plan into action within the blink of an eye, the Board needs to be faster than the blinks. Odds are, by the time it hits the world media the Board have analysed it at least five times, considered its ramifications at least twice, run a simulation to check which outcomes are the most likely... and, Boardies being Boardies, wondered if this will impact Dave's relationship with Blue.
Originally the organisation's entire raison d'etre, Speculation consumes more than half of the Board's time, resources, and energy, and has a vast number of personnel on hand to staff it. Like so many Board past-times, the department has evolved from a curious habit into a deadly serious program of intelligence-gathering, employing a vast network of covert spy satellites to augment field agents and intercepted signals traffic, all ensuring the Board is always aware of current events.
The amount of information that flows into "Spec" is staggering, and the wide-eyed, quick-thinking Boardies who man the system would be swamped without the highly advanced artificial intelligences built into the reception apparatus, who constantly sift the incoming stream for major items or important patterns of events. The system famously dumps a day's extrapolated data into the Archives at 11pm station time each night, causing a feverish run on the computers as analysts study the reports generated and other Boardies pile in to await news.
Even during "off hours", Speculation never sleeps. The system is organised into sixteen large data centres, named for Greek letters, of which four are always active at any given time. These centres (dubbed "threads" for the long, winding maintenance tunnels beneath and around them that hold the computer equipment, giving their blueprints the look of a giant piece of embroidery) are long, wide halls filled with display screens and computer workstations, putting many in mind of a warped stock exchange...albeit one where the only currency is facts. When a thread is inactive, many Boardies "borrow" the computer support therein, taking advantage of old rules that allow any Boardie to speculate - and rightly so, as even a newbie on his first day may make an unexpected connection or discovery.
The largest and most busy thread is Speculation Alpha, where the most powerful AIs and expert Boardies correlate information from all other sources, cross-referencing as much as possible to draw valuable conclusions. Both the Board and FLEET have units on standby for the slightest word from Spec, and their speedy response has averted catastrophe many times.