When Information Counts
Urban areas find ways to tackle threats with intelligence management solutions
- By Stephen Daniels
- Oct 02, 2007
It's no surprise that cities are transforming the way they protect themselves. Local police and security personnel now carry anti-terrorism and disaster response technologies. And utilities and other critical urban infrastructures have come under increased scrutiny. Behind the scenes, federal and state grants are reshaping urban security strategies nationwide.
Security products have no doubt played a key role in this trend. In some ways, cities have become test sites for the latest in security techniques and technologies.
But protecting urban areas is a job that requires a new approach to intelligence management, as well. Many cities have a number of critical infrastructures, making them a potential target for attack. Ensuring information flows quickly and easily to the right personnel is the first step in protecting cities and the critical infrastructures within them.
While intelligence management is emerging as a new weapon in urban security, finding the right system depends on a number of factors.
This is what you should look for in an intelligence management system:
• Single, real-time view of all data sources.
• Precision searching of all data using total content access.
• Customization and conformity to department guidelines.
• Ability to make all intelligence available to all levels of staff while maintaining security.
If you work in an intelligence-led organization, remember to do the following:
• Make tactical decisions based on accurate, relevant data.
• Become proactive in combating security threats.
• Comply with continually changing privacy, security and legal requirements.
• Manage the increasing volume and sources of available data.
• Counter the increase in organized corruption and fraud.
Long before the public safety profession embraced technology, valuable data, however it was gathered, influenced policy development, staffing decisions, equipment purchases, risk assessment and more.
Today, it's not enough to simply gather information<\m>in filing cabinets, spreadsheets or even databases. Intelligence management is now state of the art.
The most advanced systems help gather and disseminate an unprecedented amount of information quickly to key personnel through a variety of mediums. Some cities deploy helicopters that patrol with digital, GPS-guided maps with the capability to download aerial pictures to personnel on the ground. Other cities have officers on patrol using handheld PDAs to log arrests, traffic problems and medical emergencies. In the most wired communities, data can be transmitted to the central command unit, where authorities track and deploy officers and equipment accordingly.
The newest trend in urban security is building systems that enable people to convert critical information into actionable intelligence.
@Text Bulleted:The most important security technologies include the following:
&bulll; Web-based portals that allow police, fire and medical care agencies to plan and coordinate resources during a major event or disaster.
&bulll; Tools that help agencies respond quickly to threats against things like agriculture, dams, government and public entertainment venues.
&bulll; Digital mapping and photo systems for aircraft, which enable pilots to take pictures of disaster zones.
&bulll; Interactive software that allows security and law enforcement personnel to tap into and analyze data from multiple agencies and convert it into actionable intelligence.
Cities that embrace intelligence management as part of their urban security plan are growing in number. Intelligence-led cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, have built real-time anti-crime, or fusion, centers that house intelligence-gathering systems intended to ensure information is shared among various law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.
At the state level, Nevada has announced plans to build three anti-terrorism fusion centers using a $7 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Washington also is planning to add to its existing fusion centers by hiring six analysts. And the 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program plans to award approximately $411 million to the nation's six urban areas at highest risk of a terrorist attack.
Building a Web
The case for sharing information couldn't be clearer. Security teams need access to data as soon as it becomes available. A good operational intelligence system will enable the secure input, management, development, analysis and sharing of critical information across the organization and with company partners.
Some intelligence management systems let users tap into the network from a remote or mobile device. If your security team is highly mobile or geographically dispersed, look for a system with a Web portal. This will ensure anytime, anywhere access to data.
Visualization tools also are becoming more common. Data that can be presented in graph or link-chart form lets users work with the data and integrate information from several sources at once. Visualization tools also help cross-functional teams communicate using a common language: images.
Securing the Rails
Cities have benefited from intelligence management systems in a number of ways. Two such cases, a railroad and a major urban area, illustrate how cities use intelligence management software.
A railway hub in a major urban area discovered that crimes committed in one location often reverberated down the line, disrupting people many miles away. The railway's unique set-up means that law enforcement must police across several jurisdictions. In effect, criminals investigated by the railway also are criminals for local police forces<\m>in legal terms, a federal crime.
The railway implemented an intelligence management system from Memex, an intelligence management software provider, at the force headquarters, which includes a Web interface connecting its 88 police stations and seven area headquarters. Since the railway implemented the system in May 2001, it has proven to be a highly efficient, low-maintenance application that is well regarded by its users.
Los Angeles recently faced its own security challenges on multiple fronts. Because of its large size and complex infrastructure, it required a security strategy that could support an all hazards, all crimes approach<\m>without hampering local police efforts through a too-centralized command.
The city's first step was to create a multi-agency effort called the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and DHS. The JRIC designed a system to collect, share and analyze intelligence such as terrorism tips and leads.
On a scale not seen before, the JRIC built a system that connects participating local agencies in a sensitive but unclassified environment, providing 24/7 intelligence and analysis capabilities in a single intelligence center. The JRIC also provides its members with security clearances and access to systems and facilities necessary to gather, analyze and disseminate information as part of a comprehensive intelligence cycle. The JRIC initiative covers seven counties, with a total population of more than 18 million and a geographical area of approximately 42,000 square miles.
Law enforcement, emergency management and other agencies in cities around the United States have been using intelligence management software for several years, thanks to local and federal funds and professionals who have an eye on building intelligence-led organizations.
Public safety relies on real-time information today more than ever. The goal is to not only provide access to the most advanced information across organizations, but also provide the added intelligence to ensure the information is being used in the most accurate and efficient way. Protecting an urban area with intelligence management tools is transforming the way law enforcement groups and private companies are able to share, track and analyze all relevant information. In the end, the goal is to help the professional make accurate and timely decisions.