Web links law enforcement nets

Law Enforcement Online

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies soon will have a single

Web interface linking separate collaborative networks already in place to

increase information sharing across all levels of government.

The FBI's Law Enforcement Online (LEO) network and the Regional Information

Sharing Systems (RISS) network each serve collaborative needs for various

levels of the law enforcement community. By bringing them together through

a single Web interface, users will have access to computing resources as

well as people and expertise across the entire spectrum, said George March,

director of the RISS Office of Information Technology. March was speaking

Aug. 19 at the Government Symposium on Information Sharing and Homeland

Security in Philadelphia.

One of LEO's biggest advantages is the ability to offer a secure online

space for specific interest groups to work and share information. On the

other hand, RISS excels in providing Web access to multiple databases in

local jurisdictions across the country, March said.

After Sept. 11, both the Justice Department and the White House Office

of Homeland Security started looking for solutions to connect the entire

law enforcement community, and in the end, both turned to the connection

between the existing networks, March said.

The hardware and software for the connection is in place, and the interface

has been tested by Justice and has gone through full certification and accreditation

under the federal requirements, March said. Final approval should come through

soon, and then all that is left to do is flip the switch, he said.

Both networks will continue to exist as separate entities, because there

are different users in each environment, but the Web interface that the

LEO and RISS teams have been developing will provide a seamless bridge between

the two.

A single advisory committee will oversee the integration of the two

networks. March said that part of the plan is to play to the strengths of

both networks moving forward, putting LEO in charge of advancing Web-based

applications and RISS in charge of handling the database applications.

A single directory and e-mail system will be put in place that will

allow any member of either network to connect to the person or group with

the appropriate expertise at any time. The directory also will enable full

security on the network by setting access according to individual identity.

One potential application for this connection will be for LEO to be

the central point through which local law enforcement will receive alerts

from federal homeland security officials, March said.

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