FBI data-sharing system set to roll this month

The FBI's pending implementation of an ambitious nationwide law enforcement information sharing system is coming in roughly on time and just under budget, the National Data Exchange (N-Dex) program manager told GCN.

Program manager Kevin Reid of the Criminal Justice Information Service said the FBI plans to launch N-Dex's first increment March 19. Reid said CJIS and the N-Dex vendor, Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, will bring in the first increment of N-Dex at a cost of about $41 million ' approximately $3 million less than the project budget specified.

Raytheon won the N-Dex contract in February 2007. At the time, the FBI and Raytheon said they expected to complete the first increment by Feb. 29.

However, some law enforcement information technology specialists noted that the current generation of crime and law enforcement incident databases can contain subtle but important mistakes caused by user workarounds N-Dex won't catch.

Some police IT specialists said that such databases are riddled with technological 'police jargon,' which reflects individual agencies' methods of coping with gaps in the systems' capabilities.

In some law enforcement databases, police officers developed stand-in terms for missing data elements over the years, the sources said.

One frequent problem with police record management systems arises when police agencies start entering information into databases' fields that doesn't follow the systems' intended purposes. The system could lack fields for a data element such as a new firearm, crime or gang identity.

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