This earlier system "established a set of technology tools and a governance model to promote information sharing," Homeland Security's Holcomb says. The federal effort expands the concept beyond law enforcement to make the technology available to other local and state public officials. HSIN eventually will tap into county-level law-enforcement systems and also will be used to exchange classified information.
Members of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Force train in crowd control methods.
Photo by Erik Lesser/EPA
That system and other regional law-enforcement data-sharing efforts will feed into the federal HSIN. Homeland Security's greatest challenge with the system is ensuring that the many different participants can effectively use it, says Patrick Duecy, a partner with Homeland Solutions and the former director of the Defense Department's Joint Intelligence Task Force Combating Terrorism, in an E-mail. Homeland Solutions is a consulting firm that has provided management and operations services for both the Joint Regional Information Exchange System and HSIN.
If it all works, local and state security officials will benefit from fast, easy access to the secure communications capabilities that HSIN will provide. And the country will benefit in a bigger way, since the technology will let federal officials use locally gathered intelligence to fight terrorism on a national level and more effectively protect significant national events such as the G8.