Data warehouse will enable federal crime busters to view local and state police information
The FBI took a first step in creating a national data warehouse when it recently awarded Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co. a contract to develop the U.S. Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx).
Federal officials believe that N-DEx will one day enable federal crime fighters, counterterrorism operatives and intelligence analysts to quickly peruse huge caches of local and state crime reports for the first time. N-DEx will operate on a secure data backbone.
Until now, law enforcement computers have been linked in several useful arrangements, such as Coplink, a commercial data-mining system. About 1,600 police departments rely on Coplink.
The federal government, meanwhile, has successfully managed programs such as the Regional Information Sharing System, which enables police in a variety of departments to communicate.
These systems have produced some crime-fighting triumphs, but they provide a relatively limited view of existing data. What’s more, the systems aren’t national in scope.
Collaboration is key
“The development and deployment of N-DEx will provide nationwide capability to share information derived from incident, arrest and event reports,” FBI Chief Information Officer Zalmai Azmi said. “This will expedite coordination across law enforcement so that we can remain one step ahead of the criminals and terrorists, despite jurisdictional boundaries.”
N-DEx will give police information that is more timely, accurate and complete than what’s currently available on fragmented networks in the United States. N-DEx will “enable law enforcement agencies to collaborate with one another by connecting the dots between seemingly unrelated criminal incidents,” an FBI statement noted.
What goes into the data warehouse?
The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) system will be part of N-DEx. Other federal crime data will come from a variety of sources, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, the FBI and U.S. marshals.
Also part of N-DEx: police agency data that’s managed by local, state, tribal and federal agencies.
Eventually N-DEx will permit 200,000 state and local investigators, as well as federal counterterrorism investigators, to search across billions of police reports that currently are housed in about 15,000 state and local agencies. Those reports will include names of suspects, associates, victims, persons of interest, witnesses and any other person named in an incident, arrest, booking, parole or probation report. The price tag for Raytheon’s work on N-DEx is $85 million.
Who’s who of law enforcement
Leaders of U.S. police agencies worked with the FBI and the Department of Justice in N-DEx planning. National groups that were involved in determining N-DEx parameters included: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association.