Information sharing will spread Justice's influence

Information sharing will spread Justice's influence <@VM>Stats at a Glance: Justice

The Justice Consolidated Network will link the department's organizations through a national telecommunications backbone.

Department's organizations will connect via a consolidated network that has international reach

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Justice Department will roll out a common telecommunications backbone by October 2000.

Department officials said the Justice Communications Network will lay a foundation for plans to create a common infrastructure to foster data sharing.

Rising telecommunications costs and a need for increased bandwidth sparked the department's move to create a shared telecommunications network, said Robert Miller, JCN program manager and assistant director of network services in the Justice Telecommunications Services Office.

All Justice agencies will access a high-speed enterprise network that will support videoconferencing, Internet technologies and digital imaging.

Can we talk?

JCN will provide a telecommunication infrastructure and support large volumes of departmental information sharing, Miller said.

For example, JCN will enhance systems integration by simplifying data retrieval and letting information sharing take place internationally for projects such as the Global Justice Information Network.

The global network provides automated communication, ex-change and retrieval of information, and it will be able to tap the Internet and the Web to link diverse platforms and software applications, Miller said.

The Joint Automated Booking System is another Justice initiative which JCN will carry, Miller said. JABS provides the means to electronically collect, store and transmit photographs, fingerprints and biographical data on offenders when they are booked. It removes redundant data and facilitates information sharing among federal law enforcement agencies.

JCN will increase bandwidth via frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode technologies. JCN's 200 1.5-MHz T1 lines and 29 45-MHz T3 lines all use Sprint Corp.'s public switched network, which is powered by switches from Nortel Networks Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif.

The telecommunications services for JCN are provided through the General Services Administration's FTS 2000 and FTS 2001 programs.

Common security methods and economies of scale also induced Justice to consolidate its agencies' WANs, Miller said.

Justice now has eight WANs and seven smaller networks. The Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, U.S. Attorneys Office, Marshals Service and Trustee Program all have nationwide telecommunications networks; a total of 1,500 sites must be moved to JCN within the next year.

Eleven Community Relations Service, 20 Bureau of Prison, 24 Immigration and Naturalization Service and 175 U.S. Attorney offices use JCN currently.

'All of the components will run logical versions of their own network over one access circuit'the JCN,' Miller said. Justice agencies will still need to maintain their own networks for in-house staff.

The full JCN implementation, which will cost Justice about $18 million, will combine the networks into one backbone WAN to meet data throughput requirements de-partmentwide.

Special orders

After upfront planning in 1996, a JCN advisory board directorate and its technical working group re-searched and reported on the telecommunications requirements of all Justice components. Those requirements drove the design of the infrastructure, which will be completed by the end of this year.

'The components wanted to grow their networks, and the demand for bandwidth capability was skyrocketing as they started using the Internet and imaging technologies,' Miller said.

Consolidating all Justice networks will increase connectivity and reduce costs.

Annually, JCN will cost Justice $36 million, but the department will cut $10 million in costs per year, Miller said.

The Justice Telecommunications Services staff, in Rockville, Md., will monitor the system by continuously getting reports from Sprint. Miller calls this proactive troubleshooting.

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