What is a Fusion Center?
A fusion center is a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity. Intelligence processes -through which information is collected, integrated, evaluated, analyzed, and disseminate - are a primary focus.
Data fusion involves the exchange of information from different sources - including law enforcement, public safety, health care and the private sector. Relevant and actionable intelligence results from analysis and data fusion. The fusion process helps agencies be proactive and protect communities.
National Support for Fusion Centers
In 2006, the President approved the establishment of a national integrated network of state and major urban area information fusion centers. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI have begun deploying personnel to work within fusion centers.
Fusion Center Guidelines
The Fusion Center Guidelines were developed to ensure that fusion centers are established and operated consistently, resulting in enhanced coordination, strengthened partnerships, and improved crime-fighting and anti-terrorism capabilities.
Role of Fusion Centers
State and regional fusion centers enable local, state, and Tribal governments to gather, process, analyze, and share information and intelligence relating to all crimes and all hazards. Fusion centers communicate, cooperate, and coordinate with each other and with the federal government. These centers:
- Contribute information to ongoing federal and national-level terrorist risk assessments and complete statewide, regional, or site-specific and topical risk assessments
- Disseminate federally generated alerts, warnings, and notifications regarding time-sensitive threats, situational awareness reports, and analytical products.
- Gather, process, analyze, and disseminate locally generated information, such as Suspicious Activity Reports.
- Produce or interpret intelligence products relevant to stakeholders.
- Protect civil liberties and privacy interests of American citizens throughout the intelligence process.
Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC)
The Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) is located in Orange County, California. The OCIAC fusion center was formed in 2007 to meet the need for information sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and other public safety disciplines. OCIAC was built on the foundation established by the Orange County Sheriff's Department Terrorism Early Warning Group, which operated from 2001 to 2007, and is an Operational Area asset. Direct responsibility for the overall policy and direction of OCIAC rests with the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner in close coordination with the Orange County Chiefs and Sheriff's Association. The Orange County Sheriff's Department provides a Lieutenant to act as the Director of day-to-day operations. The staff at the center is comprised of valued partners from Federal, State, and Local organizations.
The Mission of the OCIAC
To provide an integrated, multi-disciplined, information and intelligence sharing network to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on all criminal risks and safety threats to law enforcement, fire, health, private sector and public sector stakeholders in a timely manner in order to protect the residents, visitors, and critical infrastructure while ensuring the civil rights and civil liberties of all persons are recognized.
The OCIAC is a certified U.S. Department of Homeland Security-designated local fusion center that adheres to the policies and procedures of federal, state, and local regulators. Anti-terrorism is the OCIAC's primary focus, though it will devote resources to crime analysis on a case-by-case basis. OCIAC is composed of four units:
- Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit
- Terrorism Liaison Officer Unit/SHIELD
- Analysis Unit
- Intelligence Unit
Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit
The Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Unit's primary focus is on prevention. The CIP unit is tasked with identifying locations of criticality and planning multi-agency/discipline prevention, deterrence, mitigation and response efforts.
The CIP Unit conducts field assessments in an effort to reduce a location's degree of vulnerability. Additionally, the CIP Unit is available to respond with assessment and mitigation information in the event of a natural hazard, criminal attack or terrorist threat for use by pre-incident planners and on-scene Incident Commanders, providing tactical guidance and insight to Critical Infrastructure Sectors.
Cyber Crime Liaison Officer
The CLO program operates in an inclusive culture of information sharing that serves to enhance the overall understanding of cyber incidents that first responders may be expected to respond to. In order to better understand the threat landscape, CLOs are encourages to report cyber incidents to the OCIAC, including (but not limited to):
- Attempted or successful network intrusions
- Temporary or permanent attacks that make phone lines or websites unavailable
- Threats to expose sensitive stolen data
- Unauthorized website modifications
- Attempted or successful Physical attacks against cyber infrastructure
Terrorism Liaison Officer Program
The Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) Program improves information sharing and communication capability between law enforcement, fire, health, as well as, private and public sector partners. Duties and responsibilities include:
- Collect and receive suspicious activity reports
- Facilitate monthly information sharing meetings
- Provide homeland security based training for multi-disciplined personnel
- Disseminate homeland security related information
- Identify community stakeholders and develop private sector relationships
The SHIELD liaisons with local businesses to form a vital information network with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center and its first responder partners. In addition, it improves the virtual reach-back capability within the Operational Area during times of crisis, ensuring access to resources and field intelligence/information.
The SHIELD partners with public safety to implement interdiction policies and target hardening strategies, while striving to ensure a unified, consistent, and coordinated response to acts or threats of terrorism. The SHIELD also supports implementation of private sector Emergency Response Plans to mitigate the severity and degree of potential loss to communities, commerce, and industry.
The Analysis Unit's primary function is the collection, evaluation, analysis and dissemination of criminal and intelligence data. Additionally, it creates timely and accurate analytical products that are disseminated to information/intelligence consumers at the local, state and federal level. The information collected is processed to support efforts that address immediate and/or emerging threat-related circumstances and events.
The Intelligence Unit is the primary OCIAC representative on all criminal intelligence matters. Its duties include the coordination, monitoring and overseeing of homeland security related incidents. The Intelligence Unit does not ordinarily perform enforcement activities, but rather is a source of intelligence and investigative assistance for the operational unit.