A portal for secure information requests

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A portal for secure information requests

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security developed a communication network to make it easier for agencies to share intelligence related to terrorism. Operational since 2006, the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) recently added a capability that simplifies the way fusion centers handle requests for information from law enforcement agencies.

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Those requests involve providing analytical assistance or information that could identify emerging criminal activity, processing encounter notifications, assessing current crime trends, or supporting counterterrorism or emergency management operations. HSIN Exchange now helps fusion centers address inquiries more efficiently while using metrics to assess and enhance their own operations. Along the way, the centers are saving time and reducing the duplication of systems and effort.  

Information requests used to be handled via email, but with HSIN Exchange, law enforcement officials nationwide can access a free tool to share and track information requests through a secure and standardized template.  

HSIN Exchange, which was built in-house, is a model-view-controller web application that can only be accessed via HSIN using Oracle’s identity and access management suite for two-factor authentication.

“Using HSIN Exchange ensures that mission-essential requests for information and associated responses are safe and secure in a trusted environment,” said Katherine Mullins, director of HSIN mission integration and outreach at DHS.

"Every day, agencies from federal, state, local, tribal [and] territorial [governments] are looking for answers to huge questions," said Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, in a prepared statement. "The HSIN Exchange tool is going to revolutionize the way those requests for information are made.”

HSIN Exchange has already streamlined the process for managing information requests between fusion centers and will soon be expanded to include other law enforcement agencies, such as major city and county intelligence units. 

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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