|CONNECTING THE DOTS
Using New FBI Technology
An NYPD detective is e-mailed a photograph of two suspicious men who appear to be casing the Brooklyn Bridge. Her department uploads the picture and inputs details about the pair into a computerized, Internet-based system called eGuardian, looking for similar incidents. Lo and behold, there’s a match. Two men fitting the description had been spotted 48 hours earlier photographing the Washington Monument and are being sought for questioning. The NYPD report is sent via eGuardian to the state’s fusion center, which reviews it and then passes it along to our New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which will in turn share it with D.C. investigators.
It’s purely a hypothetical, but it’s exactly the kind of dot-collecting and dot-connecting that will soon be possible between law enforcement and intelligence players at every level of government across the country—thanks to FBI technology.
The eGuardian system—which is being piloted by several agencies and will start being rolled out in phases nationwide by year’s end, complete with training—will enable near real-time sharing and tracking of terror information and suspicious activities with our local, state, tribal, and federal partners. It’s actually a spin-off of a similar but classified tool called Guardian that we’ve been using inside the Bureau—and sharing with vetted partners—for the past four years.
How eGuardian works. In a very similar way, except it will be available through our secure Law Enforcement Online Internet portal to more than 18,000 agencies, which will be able to run searches and input their own reports. Their entries will be automatically sent to a state “fusion center” (or a similar intelligence-based hub) for vetting, where trained personnel will evaluate it and then either monitor it, close it, or refer it to the appropriate FBI terror task force. Ultimately, eGuardian will add additional capabilities like geo-spatial mapping, live chats, and link analysis.
Guardian and eGuardian will work together, feeding each other. eGuardian entries with a possible terrorism nexus will be pushed to Guardian and out to our task forces, and unclassified threat and suspicious activity information from the FBI housed in Guardian will be pushed to eGuardian and out to the entire law enforcement community. It’s an effective one-two punch.
Urgent matters and investigative issues, however, will continue to be worked with state and local law enforcement through existing FBI channels.
What happens if an incident has no probable link to terrorism? The report is deleted to ensure personal data is not being needlessly stored. If the information is deemed “inconclusive,” it will remain in eGuardian for up to five years, in accordance with federal regulations.
eGuardian is yet another FBI technology that is enabling information to flow and dots to be connected in powerful new ways. By making the jobs of law enforcement easier, it will help make our communities safer.