The Western States Information Network (WSIN) was established in 1981through funding from the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its initiative for the creation of regional intelligence systems throughout the country.
One of six Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) centers designed to create a partnership between the federal government and local law enforcement, WSIN serves approximately 1,200 member law enforcement agencies in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington.
WSIN has evolved significantly during its 22 years of operation, enhancing its technology infrastructure to foster more effective operation. WSIN made its latest leap in 2003 when it embraced enterprise Weblog technology.
WSIN's primary mission relates to narcotics law enforcement, but also includes sharing intelligence on other criminal activity with members of anti-criminal organizations. The organization helps its members by providing a broad range of criminal intelligence information, analytical products, and services in support of narcotic investigations and prosecutions. It also supports multi-agency coordination and cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Specific services WSIN provides include:
?Maintaining a central repository (automated database) of criminal intelligence on narcotics traffickers and disseminating information to authorized agencies upon request;
?Supplying a dedicated telecommunication system and a telephone patching service, which enables members to call the watch center toll-free and telephonically link to other agencies nationwide;
?Producing analytical products (telephone tolls, link analyses, event flows, etc.) for identification, investigation and prosecution of narcotic offenders and trafficking organizations;
?Disseminating narcotic intelligence through various publications, bulletins and special reports;
?Providing funds in support of multijurisdictional narcotics information, loans surveillance and communication equipment, and provides audio tape filtering services;
?Providing local and statewide narcotic training and an annual project-wide information sharing conference; and
?Providing the services of 10 Regional Coordinators who act as liaisons between member agencies and WSIN. Coordinators organize and participate in regional and local intelligence meetings throughout the year, and provide technical assistance upon request.
A key to the successful operation of any organization such as WSIN is a willingness to research and embrace the latest technologies designed to streamline the organization and facilitate more efficient operation.
One challenge constantly facing WSIN was how to most effectively share critical intelligence with its employees and the member agencies at the local, state and federal levels. When executed properly, this leads to greater awareness and more efficient law enforcement. In the past, it was easy for some information to reside stagnant in somebody's in-box and subsequently be of little or no use.
As WSIN's assistant director, I attended the Homeland Security Conference in Philadelphia in 2002. While there, I stumbled upon a possible technological remedy to the situation ? an enterprise Weblog solution, which looked like it could let WSIN maximize the value of pertinent information by effectively organizing and selectively sharing it with members, who in turn could find and act on critical information more effectively.
WSIN quickly set its sights on Traction's TeamPage Enterprise Weblog software, which allows everyday corporate users to collect, link and organize information from e-mail, the Web, Microsoft Office and other sources, and deliver it organized by time, topic and importance to improve productivity, knowledge sharing, communications and collaboration. The software's hypertext journaling system can label, cross-link and deliver relevant content gathered from disparate sources, and plugs into an existing Web infrastructure. The Instant Publisher allows users to collect and post selected text, pictures, links and attachments directly from Microsoft Word, Outlook or Internet Explorer.
One initial reason my colleagues and I thought about deploying this solution was due to e-mail issues. At WSIN, everybody cc's everybody on everything, and vast amounts of important information that is stored in e-mail form is purged after a certain number of days, whether you want it to be