State Fusion Centers: Their Effectiveness in Information Sharing & Intelligence Analysis

By Renee Graphia Joyal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Emergence of Fusion Centers

Following the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions that a systematic breakdown in information sharing largely contributed to the nation’s inability to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many states began to invest in the fusion center concept as a viable means to minimize the information sharing gaps at the sub-federal level. As such, fusion centers are intended to support law enforcement and other public safety communities by fostering interagency collaboration, improving interagency information sharing, and providing a robust analytical support so they may be better positioned to coordinate resources and exchange information in a timelier manner.

Fusion centers are one of the most prominent physical manifestations at the sub-federal level of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the United states should develop both a policy and technical environment to facilitate and support greater information sharing within and between the levels of government (Dodson, 2007; Kaplan, 2007; Relyea and Seifert, 2005). The fusion center concept embraces a ‘connect the dots’ philosophy, whereby bits of information from disparate sources are collected in an effort to construct an overall picture of an operating environment and improve an agency’s awareness of real and potential threats within a given environment.

Prior to 9/11, threat information was collected by individual government agencies to meet their particular needs; however, information often remained restricted, or stovepiped, within the agency or within a particular department or unit within a single agency. It was unlikely that intelligence or information traversed boundaries largely due to organizational rules and informal cultures, as well as legislative statutes. Not only have agency personalities and turf battles influenced

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