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Resolving the dog's dinner of homeland security data sharing and analysis


You should have this five page Homeland Security Reorganization Plan on screen as you read as it will help drive home the enormity of the US C4IR (Command Control Communication Computer Intelligence Recognition) within government charged with homeland security matters. (Go here for the importance of C4IR.) The doc contains:

  • Organization of Department of Homeland Security (White House)
  • Senate budget committee view (showing Senate confirmed, New, Transferred, and Distinct agencies)
  • Anticipated DHS Agency Absorption as of 6 June 2002 (Units to be absorbed and Powers to be assumed)
  • Major Cabinet Departments and Agencies involved in Homeland security as of 6 June, 2002 (showing Borders, Emergency Response, CIP, WMD, and Special Production)
  • Government Structure after DHS as of 6 June (After creation of new departments)

Reviewing these pages leaves one with little doubt over the opportunities for turf control if not definition, authority assertion in core and gray areas (who cares what the org chart says if you can exert control), confusion over new and transferred responsibilities, loss of institutional knowledge due to transfers and reassignments, simple communication (who to contact and whom to trust as both willing and knowledgeable), and incompatible computer systems and databases.

Leaving aside the disruption of outright "land grabs" such as just occurred between Justice and DHS over the "fright bump" of a summer attack without an accompanying threat elevation, there is the technical matter of an interested analyst "on the hunt" being able to affect timely access of data within these many organizations and so gather enough data to warrant elevation to higher authority for interagency action. (The pre 11 September landscape is littered, for example, with FBI agents having to give up their hunch in the face of no reinforcing info.)

As a fusion analyst (collection, analysis, and presentation of combined multi-sensor/source data), I appreciate the need to integrate these data chimneys so as to allow search and "drill down." Enter the TTIC ("tee-tick") portal of the Terrorism Threat Integration Center that now allows real-time access to "14 separate government information networks, including some CIA and FBI sources. Again speaking as an analyst, data mining or predictive analytics is absolutely essential for terrorist interdiction, thus I am at the flipside of Dataveillance is reborn from data mining: parts of TIA return.

Spooks, Sleuths, and Data Sharing points up the problems of requisite security access, compartmentalization, secure data channels out to first responders where it is often a life or death matter (theirs and the public's), access to individual private data, allowing access to federal/state and other private contractors, and overcoming corporate resistance to data sharing (based on competition and litigation grounds). See Cooptation of commercial data warehouse firms by TIA.

There are no easy answers here, but the threat is real. The problem is how real where and when, and how to prioritize it. It is my assumption that we have not learned to mine what we have in place, yet we race to absorb more without the analysis tools to exploit out to the first responder or warfighter.

Homeland Security Reorganization Plan
US Customs & Border Protection

Spooks, Sleuths, and Data Sharing
MAY 25, 2004
By Alex Salkever, Technology editor for BusinessWeek Online

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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