The FBI’s N-DEx helps connect the dots
Sypherlink helps agencies format data for N-DEx
Few cops solve cases alone. We’re dependent on the assistance and wisdom of others to add information, eyes, and effort to the business of crime-fighting. Knowing that, it’s a sad truth that law enforcement agencies do a less-than-stellar job of talking to each other and sharing information. The FBI’s N-DEx network is intended to remedy that problem.
Boiled down to the basics, N-DEx is a massive database of information contributed by law enforcement and corrections agencies at all levels across the United States. It’s your own agency’s records system, writ large and paralleled with that of all the other participating agencies in the country. Departments submit information on people, places, property, crimes, dates and so on, and it then becomes available to all the participating organizations.
Control and ownership of the data remains with the agency that submitted it.
Here is a fictitious example of an N-DEx-based scenario, taken from the FBI’s website:
One of the obstacles to sharing data between agencies is and continues to be the lack of a standard records system. Records Management System (RMS) software has remedied that problem to a very limited degree. Two agencies that use the same RMS can share data more easily, but every department configures their RMS a little differently, and there are lots of RMS vendors out there. N-DEx requires that data be submitted in a form defined in the N-DEx Information Exchange Package Documentation (IPED). The IPED specifies how information is mapped and formatted to various data fields so that a surname submitted by the Cowchip Police Department will be in the same place as a last name from the Nowhere County Sheriff’s Office. Having consistent data standards is critical to the system’s operation and effectiveness.
To aid agencies in mapping this data to IPED standards, Sypherlink offers an interface to many RMS packages. Their basic solution is the N-DEX Appliance, which maps the user agency’s records to a format ready for transfer to N-DEx. A tool like this has the potential to save many man-hours of labor in tweaking and debugging the mapping schema. An additional tool, the DEx Toolkit, is a supplement to the N-DEX Appliance. It is intended to facilitate the sharing of information across local, regional and state jurisdictions. Some agencies do not participate in these more localized efforts and won’t need the DEx Toolkit, and they won’t have to pay for it to use the N-DEX Appliance.
N-DEx is a powerful tool agencies can use to leverage their own records information to assist and be assisted by virtually every other law enforcement organization in the country. The Sypherlink products can help departments get their data into shape and put them on the N-DEx map.
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