Enhancing Public Health Preparedness through Participation in Local Intelligence Fusion Centers

State: WI Type: Model Practice Year: 2008

Goal: To improve coordination and communication between public health agencies and law enforcement related to all hazards community-wide emergency preparedness and planning and enhancement of first responder "situational awareness." Objectives: 1. Define roles and improve information and data sharing between public health and law enforcement within the context of the Department of Homeland Security local "intelligence fusion center model." 2. Assess and review common federal preparedness objectives between local public health agencies and law enforcement agencies such as co-developing site security and traffic management plans related to CRI "points of dispensing" (PODs). 3. Develop or coordinate joint activities/projects between local public health agencies and law enforcement related to improving Homeland Security community investments such as threat vulnerability assessments of public health critical infrastructure (i.e., PODs). 4. Jointly develop public health and law enforcement "stakeholder networks" and regional "intelligence bulletin" directed toward collecting and disseminating local intelligence fusion center all-hazards threat and preparedness information.
Local public health agencies must develop regional models of interdisciplinary and inter-jurisdictional preparedness planning to both strengthen response and ensure sustainability in a climate of decreasing federal emergency preparedness funding. In addition, the CDC requires security and transportation assessments related to CRI and SNS deployment within regional jurisdictions. The partnership and leveraging by public health of local intelligence fusion centers directly addresses both of these needs. The ability of local law enforcement agencies to participate in site security and transportation planning related to CRI activities ensures that public health clinic sites will be safe and effective in providing prophylaxis to large portions of the population over a short period of time. In addition, site security assessments of this nature are a defined "accountability target" by the CDC as related to SNS plan development. Jointly assessing existing Homeland Security funding to states and urban areas with law enforcement, including review of existing assets and investments, is the first step in evaluating potential public health integration and improvement to regional emergency planning. This type of partnership between public health and law enforcement at the local level will also allow for cost-effective leveraging of scarce resources as well as offer possibilities for sustainment of initiatives, projects, and systems that are jeopardized by current and future reductions in federal and state funding. Finally, Department of Homeland Security local fusion centers continue to be funded and developed across the country, offering an opportunity to input local public health "intelligence" (i.e., communicable and environmental disease and exposure data) and subsequently building a more robust model for situational awareness within a community as well as fostering a stronger and more collaborative partnership with law enforcement agencies.
Agency Community RolesThe Department of Homeland Security's local intelligence fusion model is predicated and driven by both interdisciplinary and multi-agency collaboration and involvement, which is critical to success. It also relies heavily on creating "liaison networks" within the community of individuals and agencies that both inform and receive feedback related to intelligence streams and updates. These are generally private-sector or non-governmental agencies that can provide valuable and previously unrecognized information to fusion center staff that enrich the intelligence picture. Each member fusion center agency contributes respectively to the overall intelligence picture and through subject matter expertise enhances overall situational awareness within the community or as requested by an incident command system in the context of the occurrence of a "real event." One role of the local public health agency is to provide public health "intelligence" in terms of communicable disease trends, syndromic surveillance observations, environmental health findings, and private healthcare capacity issues around medical surge as well as community mass prophylaxis strategies. The integration of public health creates a more robust and comprehensive picture of community readiness and informs the overall Homeland Security mission within a community. Leveraging intelligence training available through law enforcement fusion center infrastructure also provides a new skill set for public health practitioners as well as perspective related to other stakeholder roles and activities. While Department of Homeland Security local intelligence fusion centers are generally staffed and supported technically and administratively by state and local law enforcement agencies, they provide an opportunity for cost effective and practical application of existing and newly developed public health data and analysis methodology. Costs and ExpendituresImplementation costs = $0 (provided local intelligence fusion center is established). Start-up costs = $0 (provided local intelligence fusion center is established). In-Kind costs = .25 FTE public health personnel (approximately $15,000-20,000). ImplementationThe following tasks represent various phases of the joint public health and law enforcement implementation strategy related to integration and leveraging of the local intelligence fusion center in strengthening public health preparedness plans especially as related to the City of Milwaukee Cities Readiness Initiative and activation of PODs and enhancing community wide situational awareness. 1. Review and assignment of existing public health personnel or integration of appropriate public health data systems within local intelligence fusion center processes (one to three months). 2. Joint assessment, review, and identification of common planning strategies between public health and Homeland Security federal and state funded initiatives such as security, transportation, and information-sharing plan components (one month). 3. Review of existing Cities Readiness Initiative and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) assets and investments and develop a common framework for joint activities and projects including workflow plan review and on-site visits to currently identified mass clinic and PODs (three to six months). 4. Developing community liaison officer networks and regional fusion center intelligence bulletin for distribution to both public health stakeholders and local law enforcement (one year).
Improved coordination, communications, and partnership among public health agencies and law enforcement agencies at local and state levels as well as achievement of common objectives among currently disparate federal planning grant programs including community liaison networks and training for both public health and law enforcement agencies; development of security and transportation plans for CRI and SNS deployment; improved joint communications through a development and dissemination of a regional fusion center "intelligence bulletin" and enhanced first responder "situational awareness"; and better integration of law enforcement in other public health planning initiatives such as pandemic flu.
The sustainability of this specific practice is highly contingent on the existence of an active and vibrant local intelligence fusion center. Funding for the center, including personnel, will need to be sustained through participating agency and network commitments if federal funding is reduced or eliminated. The success of this model will be determined by improved mitigation of events as well as efficacy of the community liaison network information sharing especially to private-sector stakeholders. Current commitment by participants is high, but future evaluation of the model and success of outcomes will determine long-term viability. This success is already evident in joint public health and law enforcement partnerships related to CRI and security and transportation assessments at mass clinic sites and PODs; shared intelligence training among agencies; and development of a regional intelligence bulletin for distribution to a community liaison network. Finally, the current fusion center is overseen by a governance board consisting of various first responder agencies along with bylaws and memorandums of agreement between jurisdictions and agencies. These actions have been taken as part of a long-term strategy for sustainment within the region.