In the "Art of War," Sun Tzu says those "whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious." But in the battle against crime and terrorism, unity with the sharing of intelligence has been a challenge for law enforcement. While technology is available to integrate intelligence and add value to the fight against crime, concerns abound over information ownership, security and other variables. These fears have stood in the way of effective intelligence sharing.
Bill Plate, vice president of Enforsys Inc. and former chief of police in the Township of Hanover, New Jersey, believes the apprehension toward information sharing is due to a lack of control. "For example, if I share my system, all of its information is pumped into either a file or regional database," he says. "Many executives don't like the idea of not having or maintaining control — without control many won't be ready to share."
Traditionally intelligence sharing was conducted in a task force environment where there was an immediate need for information. "In that scenario, local relationships and trust can be established," Plate says. "Today, anyone can look at the shared data, and that is a paradigm shift for many people." Plate believes as people see the value of data sharing technology and the ability to control how information flows, attitudes will change and more sharing will take place.
To fully illustrate this shift, it's critical to understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge. The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan defines intelligence as "information that has been analyzed to determine its meaning and relevance." Knowledge pertains to information that is collected but may not necessarily have relevant meaning. In the past this lack of control meant agencies had no way to filter out knowledge that shouldn't be shared.
Dr. Joseph Atick, executive vice president and chief strategic officer of L-1 Identity Solutions, headquartered in Stanford, Connecticut, believes true intelligence sharing soon will be reality due to advancing technology. "Newer technology allows information to be shared without moving the data," he explains. According to Atick, the technology works similar to the Internet where owners of the data control information available for consumption. "This technology will allow the sharing of knowledge without the sharing of data," he explains. "In the past, sharing intelligence has come through consolidating data. Today that is no longer necessary."
According to Sam Roth, executive vice president at Svivot Ltd., agencies need to think beyond their jurisdictional boundaries. Many law enforcement departments focus on local crime, but Roth stresses that today's world crime is multi-jurisdictional, so the more information agencies share, the better off everyone will be. "Technology has to play a role in alleviating these concerns," he says. "Once there is a demand from the ground up, it will be easier for law enforcement to accept knowledge sharing."
The challenges are clear, but how has technology changed to solve the problem? In the past the only time information was shared was because of a mandate. Information control now rests in the hands of those who own the data, and client applications add genuine value for those who use them. The following takes a look at what some companies' info sharing technologies provide.
Enforsys. This Roseland, New Jersey-based company offers I-3 Exchange, currently in use by 39 municipalities in Morris County, New Jersey. Multiple user levels allow for various levels of experience. Enforsys will initially set up the program rules based upon meetings conducted with senior-level executives. Once installed, an administrator can create and maintain mechanisms of control and rules for what information can be published right away and what needs to wait for approval. Data can be collected in various forms and JXDM compliant by the system.