Philly officials prepare for opening of fusion center

Philadelphia's mayor said a fusion center in the city will be a model for the nation.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter recently toured the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC), a fusion center in South Philadelphia scheduled to begin operations in early 2013.

Like other fusion centers around the country, the DVIC aims to improve data sharing among public safety organizations in the private and government sectors at the city, state and federal level. The DVIC will improve interoperability among many of the region's agencies, including units of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The fusion center will not replace any existing law enforcement or emergency response organizations, but will aim to break down barriers between these agencies to improve coordination.

“Our information gathering-systems currently exist in silos – between states, between counties, within governments, and even within departments operating in those governments," said Everett Gillison, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Chief of Staff, according to the Philly police Blog. "The DVIC is a place where those barriers to communication can be removed and effective public safety collaboration can happen.”

Once the DVIC is operational, officers in the field will have access to the fusion center's information 24/7.

Nutter says DVIC will be a model fusion center
In October, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcomittee on Investigations published a critical report on fusion centers that alleged mismanagement of funds and inefficient information collection and dissemination practices. Nutter rebutted this report, recently calling its conclusions "outlandish" and saying the DVIC will serve as a model fusion center, according to ABC affiliate WPVI.

Nutter and other officials said that as one of the country's largest metro areas, Philadelphia is home to many agencies that stand to benefit from greater information sharing. The DVIC will employ about 130 people and serve five counties, including Delaware County, which has 42 police departments, WPVI reported.

The DVIC is on track to open in March 2013. Construction began in earnest in 2008, according to WHYY's Newsworks, although planning began in 2006.

Construction of the facility has been funded by $11 million in federal grant money and $10 million from the city of Philadelphia, according to WPVI. NewsWorks reported the city money went toward building renovations, and the federal dollars are earmarked for communications equipment and other tech hardware.

News provided by Thinkstream, a technology company dedicated to enhancing communication and interoperability for public safety and criminal justice agencies, and providing fraud detection and prevention services for financial institutions.

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