On May 4, 2010, e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government and Emergency Management honored first responders demonstrating measurable improvements in the lives of the people and businesses they serve. Among the recipients of the inaugural Emergency Management Digital Distinction Awards was the Utah Statewide Terrorism and Information Analysis Center (SIAC). Core to SIAC’s capapbilities is the Microsoft Fusion Core Solution technology platform. Here’s a snippet from the Center’s website:
Best Collaboration and Information Sharing
Fusion Center Empowers Utah’s Crime Stoppers, Utah Department of Public Safety, Statewide Information & Analysis Center
The Utah Statewide Information & Analysis Center (SIAC), managed by the Utah Department of Public Safety, is a public safety partnership collaboration with all of the state’s law enforcement and public safety agencies to collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence appropriately for enhanced protection of Utah’s citizens, communities and critical infrastructure. As the state’s intelligence fusion (terrorism and response) center, SIAC replaced a legacy system that lacked effective data management practices and included manual, duplicative efforts. SIAC implemented a new set of technologies which utilized existing assets, integrated domain-specific applications, and improved business processes for information collection and management, and analysis and information sharing with Utah’s 29 county Sheriff’s Offices, 180 law enforcement agencies, and more than 26 specialized task forces.
Fusion Core Solution is an open and extensible information sharing and analysis product, based on the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and Information Sharing Environment-Suspicious Activity Reporting (ISE-SAR) Functional Standard, developed to help municipal, county, regional, state, and federal intelligence and fusion centers improve operations through workflow management, information sharing, and geospatial intelligence technologies. For more information about Fusion Core Solution see http://www.microsoft.com/fusion
I had a conversation with a fusion center director yesterday about portals that really drove home a feeling I had about the recent plethora (read: boatload) of portals that the average analyst person supporting public safety and homeland security has to login to in order to do their jobs.
I’m paraphrasing a bit, but he basically indicated that the state, local, and private sector organizations in his state told him that they “DO NOT want to have to log into multiple portals” to stay informed about criminal and terrorism threats to their state’s infrastructure.”
When you take a closer look at the “Portal-mania” that exists, it seems that every agency and multiple programs within a single agency has to have their own portal for accessing the information and analytic tools that agency or program provides; here’s a quick list of ones I am familar with, (feel free to email me the names of others you know about):
- DHS HSIN State and Local Community of Interest (SLIC)
- DHS Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS)
- DHS Automated Critical Asset Management System (ACAMS)
- DOJ Regional Data Exchange (R-DEx)
- DOJ National Data Exchange (N-DEx)
- DOJ eGuardian
- DOJ Law Enforcement Online (LEO)
- DOJ InfraGard
- DOJ National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)
- DOJ National Criminal Intelligence Resource Center (NCIRC)
- DOJ Regional information Sharing System (RISS)
- Private Sector CyberCop
- [State] Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS)
- …add to this Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, and other federal agency portals
- …and about three-dozen other databases and private sector websites
This is nutz! Dedicated portals are so 1990′s…we should be able to use the same technology I used to create this website and blog (WordPress and four different plug-in widgets) to make information and advanced analytic capabilities available to Fusion Centers and other public safety users. I would like to challenge the agencies and programs listed above to make the information and capabilities they offer available through widgets, web-parts, and gadgets that Fusion Centers and other intelligence/information sharing users can integrate into THEIR portal of choice.
Whether it’s SharePoint, Oracle, or IBM Websphere, state, local, or private sector organizations should be able to pick and integrate into THEIR selected portal environment from the portal list above the information and capabilities that they need to do their job–they should not have to access the multiple, stovepiped portals as they do today.
I’d like to know what you think about this…Thanks..r/Chuck Georgo
I don’t usually plug any specific software, but I felt compelled to tell you about something I have been working with Microsoft on for about the last eight months–it’s called the Fusion Core Solution (FCS). What’s different about this project is that FCS isn’t just another application, it is an effort by Microsoft to help fusion centers do more with the many applications they currently own or have plans to invest in. First a bit of background.
Whether you like the idea of a fusion center or not, they are here to stay. At last count, there were about 70 of them, and DHS recently spoke of helping to get even more going. At their core, I believe a fusion center is responsible for doing three basic things:
- Accepting and vetting reports of unusual behavior (criminal or terrorism related);
- Providing intelligence support to major case and tactical law enforcement operations; and
- Proactively supporting federal, state, and local homeland security and community safety objectives.
To do this well, the majority of fusion centers in operation today are required to rely on an assortment of manual processes, a patchwork of incompatible software applications, and dozens of disparate information sources. Walk into the typical fusion center today and you’ll probably find that an analyst answering the phone has to enter the request for their services into one application for management purposes, enter the same information into a second application for sharing purposes, then has to manually bring up and login to anywhere from 5-15 different data sources to search for information related to the service request, then has to open up at least one or more applications to write up and package up the requested response, and then, more than likely, has to either manually fax it to whomever asked for the information or call them back on the telephone to give them the answer–a pretty painful and tedious way to work.
Today though, Microsoft announced release of a project that I have been helping them to develop for quite some time–the Fusion Core Solution. Microsoft hopes, through use of Office, SharePoint and ESRI’s ArcGIS to help ease the pain described above. The FCS uses SharePoint as a horizontal integration and workflow management platform to help an analyst go from taking in a fusion center service request, to searching for information, to analyzing that information, to producing the intelligence product without having to leave the SharePoint environment at all.
At a non-technical level, the FCS will enable fusion centers to do a couple of pretty cool things:
- Provides a common look and feel across multiple analytic tools and business processes.
- Greatly reduces the number of user names and passwords analyst must remember.
- Organizes requests for fusion center services, and tracks progress of fusion center work.
- Helps to better document and comply with 28 CFR Part 23, CUI and PCII requirements.
- Provides multiple analyst-to-analyst and fusion center-to-fusion center collaboration tools
- Helps to keep track of fusion center and extended staff capabilities and availability.
From a technical perspective, FCS fully supports NIEM conformant information exchanges and establishes a framework for supporting the service-oriented principles of the Justice Reference Architecture (JRA) as it applies to information and data sharing.
In a nutshell, “Fusion Core Solution is for a Fusion Center what Microsoft Windows is to a personal computer“–you can think of FCS as the “operating system” for a Fusion Center.
For more info, check out the Fusion Core Solution website, or email me.
Added 8/4/2009: Click HERE to see Joe Rozek, Microsoft’s Executive Director of Homeland Security, and Former Senior Director for Domestic Counterterrorism at The White House Office of Homeland Security talk about Fusion Core Solution
Time Magazine just released “Fusion Centers: Giving Cops Too Much Information?” – another article in a long line of articles and papers published over the last few years by many organizations describing how fusion centers are a threat to our personal privacy. In the article, they quote the ACLU as saying that
“The lack of proper legal limits on the new fusion centers not only threatens to undermine fundamental American values, but also threatens to turn them into wasteful and misdirected bureaucracies that, like our federal security agencies before 9/11, won’t succeed in their ultimate mission of stopping terrorism and other crime”
While I disagree with their assertion that “legal limits” are the answer (we already have lots of laws governing the protection of personal privacy and civil liberties), I do think that more can be done by fusion center directors to prove to groups such as the ACLU that they are in-fact operating in a lawful and proper manner.
To help a fusion center director determine their level of lawful operation, I’ve prepared the following ten question quiz. This quiz is meant to be criterion based, meaning that ALL ten questions must be answered “yes” to pass the test; any “no” answer puts that fusion center at risk for criticism or legal action.
Fusion Center Privacy and Security Quiz
- Is every fusion center analyst and officer instructed to comply with that fusion center’s documented policy regarding what information can and cannot be collected, stored, and shared with other agencies?
- Does the fusion center employ a documented process to establish validated requirements for intelligence collection operations, based on documented public safety concerns?
- Does the fusion center document specific criminal predicate for every piece of intelligence information it collects and retains from open source, confidential informant, or public venues?
- Is collected intelligence marked to indicate source and content reliability of that information?
- Is all collected intelligence retained in a centralized system with robust capabilities for enforcing federal, state or municipal intelligence retention policies?
- Does that same system provide the means to control and document all disseminations of collected intelligence (electronic, voice, paper, fax, etc.)?
- Does the fusion center regularly review retained intelligence with the purpose of documenting reasons for continued retention or purging of outdated or unnecessary intelligence (as appropriate) per standing retention policies?
- Does the fusion center director provide hands-on executive oversight of the intelligence review process, to include establishment of approved intelligence retention criteria?
- Are there formally documented, and enforced consequences for any analyst or officer that violates standing fusion center intelligence collection or dissemination policies?
- Finally, does the fusion center Director actively promote transparency of its lawful operations to external stakeholders, privacy advocates, and community leaders?
Together, these ten points form a nice set of “Factors for Transparency” that any fusion center director can use to proactively demonstrate to groups like the ACLU that they are operating their fusion center in a lawful and proper manner.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed…r/Chuck