August 19, 2006 10:55 AM PDT

Sleek snoop center still leans on human factor

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As a result, Gregory Hisel, a battalion chief for the Los Angeles County Fire Department stationed at JRIC, has access to his department's dispatch system, but others at JRIC don't. "Technology has not eliminated the need for physical contact," he said. "It is more important that we've come together under one roof."

As another example, the FBI has access to its classified network of information at JRIC, but only in a separate room off the main floor that requires special clearance. "Kiefer Sutherland runs through here all the time," joked one JRIC analyst, referring to the actor who plays agent Jack Bauer on "24."

The "multimedia boards" that display on walls crucial information are also used to present and share information, Hisel said. "We use them on a daily basis," he said.

A collection of flat-panel TVs hanging from the ceiling shows news channels, including the Arab network Aljazeera. Each workstation has a high-end Windows PC, two flat-panel screens and a voice over Internet Protocol phone. A terabyte of storage capacity is available for intelligence data.

New systems should make the gathering of intelligence, analysis and case management easier. One of those was designed by Memex, a company Cruz worked for prior to joining JRIC. Memex has also helped Scotland Yard in England and sells tools for intelligence management and analysis.

The network has multiple layers of security and also utilizes encryption, Cruz said. The building has backup power to keep it up and running should there be a power failure. A backup facility that mirrors JRIC has been set up at the Los Angeles Police Department, should the entire building go down, Salas said.

Chertoff made a quick pitch for more intelligence analysts, especially those with language skills.

To fuel cooperation between the different agencies, representatives at JRIC might be managed by somebody from another agency. For example, a Los Angeles Police Department staffer could report to an FBI agent, a JRIC representative said.

JRIC aims to prevent terrorist strikes and combat crime in a 44,000-square mile territory surrounding Los Angeles, a region that spans seven counties and encompasses 18 million people. Some potential high-profile terror targets in the area include Los Angeles International Airport and the Long Beach port.

"This area is a very significant target of opportunity for terrorists," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also visited the JRIC on Friday.

Besides the goal of improved intelligence analysis, the facility is meant to help eliminate duplication in effort and speed information flow.

It all comes down to old-fashioned police work, Salas said. "Technology is fun, but we could do this on index cards, if we had to do it and had the right information."

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They're using Windows! No wonder they can't coordinate well
enough to handle a storm.

What are they going to do against a determined terrorist group?
One that's smart enough to attack their easily defeated Windows
systems before attempting a physical attack?
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do you hate our freedoms.
Posted by CitizenX (522 comments )
Link Flag
Easily defeated eh? Their computers seems to be holding up, and so are mine. Try for once to stop parroting Apple ads and get a dose of reality.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Some call it low tech
But the Police say it's the best thing they've seen and it will get better.

Knocking the system out from under it's feet before it even becomes fully operational and gets improved to do a more efficient job, it's the best we've currently got.

Bottom Line: I'd prefer low-tech over no-tech.

Agreed that they have a long way to go, but they have to start some where. And as soon as the techniques which are shared by those 15 agencies gets corroborated and patterns are found out... believe you me... they will automate what they can, but there are some things that the human mind and eyes do which are quite difficult to program.

One good example is: Place a picture in front of a human and then place that same picture in front of a camera attached to a computer.

Task: Get both of them to tell you whether that picture is pornographic or not.

The human will reply ASAP, but how do you program that into a computer?

Now replace that task with: Get both of them to tell you whether somebody in a video clip is a likely suspect or not.

Some things require human intervention and or are done better by humans. As intelligent as we want to think computers are... they can only do what they are programmed to do and not everything is programmable... even though Mickeysoft might want you to think otherwise. (* GRIN *)

Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Low Tech it is....
Any business that is started learns from previous mistakes and trials. The intelligence business is very difficult to justify until a nugget produces a known win in preventing the loss of life and/or property.
We have learned intelligence techniques from our fathers in the previous world wars. I learned in Viet Nam first hand what good and bad intelligence can do to the front line troops. Our current theater of battle is our front yard. This center is dedicated to look at information and pass it to the people who can work quickly to identify the real threats.
Today we have the basic tools and infrastructure to give the analysts the quickest access to data possible. We are working everyday to improve access and enhance the tool box for the analyst. We also are restricted by our own government as to what information we are able to look at and not step on any citizens rights. The managers work with these restrictions and still are willing and able to give the best effort for this country. We also buit this infrastructure for scalability and best practice elements.
Today it is "Low Tech" with the human factor. Tomorrow it may be very "High Tech" however the human factor is where we will always attain victories.
The intelligence analyst is the individual that will uncover and expose the threats to this country.
Analysts are very "Low Tech" and so....
"Low Tech it is".
Mario A. Cruz
LAJRIc IT Project Manager
Posted by MAC Mario Cruz (1 comment )
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