DOJ tests suspicious-activity reporting system

The Justice Department is prototyping a new system to share unclassified data with state and local law enforcement officers.

Through the Law Enforcement Online (LEO) system, E-Guardian will use the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) standard to improve suspicious-activity reporting among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Richard Beauchamp, FBI’s interim information technology portfolio manager at the Chief Information Officer’s Office, said last week that Justice is prototyping the system to gauge whether it will work.

Beauchamp, speaking at an Industry Advisory Council event in Washington, said Justice has been working on E-Guardian for about six months.

“The goal is to try to understand whether it is feasible to capture all suspicious activity data in a single repository or whether we need a distributed approach using Web services,” he said. “We have not decided what approach we will take yet.”

The plan for now is to include E-Guardian as one of a handful of systems for state fusion centers to use in the future. The National Data Exchange (N-Dex) — which will capture incident reports from across the nation containing names, phone numbers, short descriptions of incidents and other information — also will be used at fusion centers.

State and local law enforcement agencies theoretically would use federal grant money to publish their data on E-Guardian, Beauchamp said.

“The fusion centers will decide if they need to react to the information,” he said. “We also must consider if fusion centers have the resources to deal with all this data.”

Beauchamp emphasized this is still an internal effort focused on suspicious-activity reporting and not all criminal activity.

There has been a lot of interest from state and local law enforcement agencies in accessing this type of data. Beauchamp said there are more than 120,000 users on LEO, and it is growing.

And because there are a lot of users, they are generating a lot of data.

“NIEM will help us manage all of this data,” Beauchamp said.

Justice, the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, FBI, the Defense and Homeland Security departments, and state and local representatives recently formed a suspicious-activity reporting governance panel to address the challenges of standardizing incident reporting and information-sharing issues.

Beauchamp added that NIEM, which is the key to all of this, is moving to Version 2. Version 1 has been tested and is in production with several systems to develop exchange documents.

Paul Garrett, a special assistant to the Justice CIO, said NIEM’s acceptance is growing rapidly.

Justice issued guidelines for grant money to fusion centers that required the use of NIEM, and vendors are ensuring their products are NIEM-compliant, Garrett said.

“We are driving NIEM down to 40 information exchange package documentations at DHS,” Garrett said. “We will publish the suspicious-activity reporting IEPD soon and begin to figure out how to use it.”

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