Public Security Blog
UK police need to take Fusion Centre concept on board…
Rightly or wrongly, the UK police have had a hard time publicity-wise over the past few years. They are seen, in some quarters, as lacking coordination, not liaising with other agencies and not sharing data at an international, national, regional or even at a local level. This has led to some high-profile cases where a murder suspect, for example, has been overlooked because of lack of coordinated data.
The police are not alone in lacking reliable integrated information. Across public services and indeed businesses, data is often still held in impenetrable silos. Information from multiple sources is difficult to share when it is stored in different databases, in various structures and formats. In these cases, analysts are unlikely to have sufficient access to all of the required systems or the time to search and assess all information available.
The situation has been made worse by the huge rise in the amount of data available. According to the analyst firm Gartner, worldwide information volumes are growing at a minimum rate of 59 per cent annually and 70 to 85 per cent of this is complex mixed data in varied formats and structures.
For the police there is an extra layer of complexity. Information must be available to those who need it, but without compromising its security.
Thankfully, in some areas, the UK police are learning from the US where fusion centres, set up post 9/11, are using the latest data management and integration technology to facilitate information sharing between multiple agencies and overcome the IT challenge of blending mixed data. By holding data in this way, patterns, anomalies, key variables and relationships in the data are revealed, leading ultimately to new insights and better answers, faster.
In some cases the UK police have recognised that the fusion centre concept can be used to tackle not just the terrorist threat, but also crime in general. Yet much work still needs to be done in integrating these concepts in their working practices.
However, acknowledgement of the fusion centre approach is anencouraging step forward. 2012 will be an important year for the UK and the police will need to do everything in their power to prevent a wide variety of incidents ranging from terrorist attacks to a rise in petty crime.