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