Public documents can be an excellent source of information on competitors. Many types of public documents are available over the Internet, while others may only be available at records offices. For example, building permits are typically reported in newspapers and can often be accessed online, while building plans are usually available only through a visit to the public planning office. A visit to the planning office may be warranted if a competitor is building a new plant. The plans will yield a good deal about the project from which a knowledgeable competitor can deduce plant and warehouse capacity. Similarly, the annual report that a public company files with the government is another example of a document that may yield a good deal of information about a competitor.
There are a number of organizations that are concerned with the collection and use of competitive data. Internet sites with a focus on competitive intelligence include: