Designing Fusion Centers

Been thinking a lot about how we design and use fusion centers. Big centers, little rooms, or virtual connected information sharing? What works best?

Whatever the approach, fusion centers must be designed to operate as a truly collaborative information sharing environment. That is what matters the most. Effective acquisition of information and "fusing" it in order to support the rapid development of intelligence should be the prime mover for a fusion center.

Fusion centers are defined as “a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.” As is the case with EOCs, these centers demand clear operating procedures, staff roles, and responsibilities, and a supportive workspace, to include effective technology. Too often, design centers on the look and feel of a center and not on the effective operation of the center. A fusion center needs to be seen as a system of systems and a node in a larger network of information sharing platforms.

The ultimate goal of the fusion center concept is to prevent terrorist attacks; however, these centers can and should be used to prepare for and respond to other man-made or natural disasters.

"Data fusion involves the exchange of information from different sources - including law enforcement, public safety and the private sector - and, with analysis, can result in meaningful and actionable intelligence and information... The fusion process turns this information and intelligence into actionable knowledge."
Public safety and private-sector components are integral in the fusion process because they provide fusion centers with crime-related information, including risk and threat assessments, and subject-matter experts who can aid in threat identification. While many of the fusion centers began with purely counter terrorism goals, many have moved toward an all-crimes and all-hazards approach.
Fusion centers are relatively new and can be expected to continue to evolve. How these are designed will need to be determined based on evaluation of what has worked so far in the existing centers.

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