The recent mail bomb attempt on US-bound cargo and commercial airliners is another reminder of the terrorist threat the United States continues to face. While there may be a lull in the news cycles from time to time, the threat is there every day. A key component in detecting and preventing this type of threat, and other crimes, are the 72 federally- recognized fusion centers that exist across the US. These fusion centers are responsible for serving as central nodes in gathering, processing, analyzing and sharing information with law enforcement at all levels of government.
Given the enormous amount of information gathered and processed by a fusion center, robust technologies that can improve a center’s ability to respond quickly to intelligence about a threat is critical to realizing the full fusion center concept. Specifically, there are three types of technologies and capabilities that should be leveraged within every fusion center:
Data Integration – Given the significant volumes of information a fusion center handles, the ability to integrate the data from various disparate sources is a must within this type of environment. Technology that can handle data originating from different vendors and in many different formats, piece together that information, and fully prepare that data for varying types of analyses, from simple reporting to advanced analytics, greatly enhances the resulting intelligence that comes from the analyzed information.
Data Quality – The adage, “garbage data in, garbage intelligence out”, applies as much to a fusion center as any other private or public entity. Having confidence in the overall quality of data being used for analysis increases the overall confidence of the resulting intelligence. Data quality ranges from simple profiling to look-up and standardization capabilities, as well as, maintaining the original integrity of the data.
Advanced Analytics – While there is definite value in simple reporting and basic analysis of information, the ultimate intelligence for a fusion center will come from the ability to perform advanced analytics on both its structured and unstructured data. Having the capability to perform complex analysis across a center’s integrated data will enhance threat detection beyond what is being utilized today. These complex analyses include data mining, forecasting and text analytics such as content categorization and sentiment analysis.