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Law Enforcement Information-Sharing Network Expanding

Several agencies using new analytical technologies.

PHILADELPHIA -- Information sharing is an important part of regional public-safety agencies. Organizations from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia are among many agencies seeking ways to improve data sharing capabilities.

Since the announcement last week, additional participants have joined in -- building rapidly on the success of the recent live demonstration at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference in Philadelphia, Pa.

The New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Data Mining for Law Enforcement (DMLE) have joined the Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA and the Washington-Baltimore HIDTA in deploying Digital Information Gateway (DIG) server-to-multi-server capability, which enables law enforcement and homeland defense information-sharing networks. The agencies also use specialized data mining and online data services. The project is in cooperation with the University of Maryland, National Institutes of Justice, University of West Virginia and the West Virginia State Police.

The New Jersey, Philadelphia/Camden and Washington-Baltimore HIDTAs and DMLE can now access, retrieve, analyze and collaborate on information from a collective knowledge base that includes distributed databases, documents and Web sites simultaneously -- enabling proactive analysis for these safety and law enforcement agencies.

Other approaches require a centralized data warehouse where all information must be sent, but the server to multi-server (S2MS) approach provides a secure, powerful, maintainable and cost-effective method for sharing data without the need for supercomputers, recurring costs or extensive infrastructure expansion.

Using DIG, information is kept current, accounting logs can be locally checked, and access granted/denied on a moment's notice. Privacy concerns are reduced because all control remains with the agency. Furthermore, depending on the needs of the agency, the system can be configured to return the actual data or a pointer-index for positive query results that keeps the actual data secure and hidden while providing a reference to initiate follow-up requests.

The number one priority of the Department of Justice and Homeland Defense is effective and secure information-sharing between federal, state and local agencies. DIG addresses enables network-centric collaboration and analyses where federal, state and local law enforcement and public-safety providers become information nodes on a network. This architecture allows for local ownership and control of data, provides more timely and current information to end users and is cost-effective.

DIG is part of the Data Clarity suite of analytical tools from Visual Analytics that offers features for searching, analyzing, sharing and reporting.
Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.
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