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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