Collaboration Makes Good Neighbors
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have been trying for over two years to get state, county, and city leaders to work more closely on big technology projects, but technical differences, culture clashes, and even laws sometimes hamper collaboration and coordination.
Fiscal pressures are also a problem, but there the DHS can help. The agency’s Office for Domestic Preparedness offers grants for first responders, particularly for regional initiatives, and George Foresman, Virginia’s deputy assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness, says the federal government is forcing agencies to collaborate by making collaboration a grant requirement.
Collaboration is especially important for public safety and law enforcement as the starting point for many initiatives. Distrust can be a problem among governmental levels, but DHS officials can help identify the reasons for mistrust and broker some possible solutions.
When working on regional engagements, a first step is to define the region and decide which cities or counties should work together. Collaboration is also crossing state borders more often, such as in the greater District of Columbia area with the Capitol Wireless Integrated Network (CapWIN). CapWIN is a common wireless infrastructure that will create a single governance structure for parts of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.
Budget problems sometimes force collaboration as regions pool resources. CapWIN program manager George Ake says the network gives local officials a “sense of ownership.”
Other states such as Massachusetts, Georgia, Missouri, and Arizona have set up a region-based approach that relies on collaboration for sharing data; Arizona’s “fusion center” provides intelligence sharing across all levels of government, for example.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Federal Computer Week (04/26/04) Vol. 18, No. 12, P. 16; Frank, Diane.