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

By Renee Graphia Joyal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Are Fusion Centers Achieving
Their Intended Purposes?

Fusion centers, in general, were established for the primary purpose of bridging the communication and collaboration gaps between agencies at all levels of government via streamlining the collection, analysis and dissemination of information and criminal intelligence. It was presumed that developing and improving the nation’s domestic information and intelligence capabilities would improve the overall flow of information, as well as the ability for separate entities and sectors to coordinate better. The 9/11 Commission clearly concluded that the outdated structure of the U.S. intelligence infrastructure and the failure of timely information dissemination were major contributing factors to the success of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and future efforts to bridge this gap were imperative. Moreover, subsequent events, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, have reaffirmed the federal, state, local and tribal government’s inability to share vital information and reliably coordinate emergency response activities.

By improving communication and coordination capabilities, government entities would be better able to collect the dots—that is having the abilities to collect disparate data and circulate it to particular communities of interest (Libicki and Pfleeger, 2004). These circumstances were compelling catalysts for the construction and operation of a majority of fusion centers. To achieve this, a number of physical, technical and cultural barriers must be minimized or removed not only vertically between the layers of government, but also horizontally across jurisdictional and disciplinary boundaries, so that all public safety entities would be better able to collect the dots,

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