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Building Private-Public Relationships – Fusion Centers

I have worked as a business continuity/risk professional in the financial sector for close to 20 years now.  Having performed hundreds of tabletops, risk assessments and established valuable public-private partnerships for my organization, I felt somewhat confident in my knowledge of the subject matter. As I moved from working for a single financial institution to an organization that promotes risk intelligence sharing and resiliency building, I quickly became aware that I had just skimmed the top of a vast network of resources that work non-stop to ensure the financial sector is prepared to recover for their communities as quickly as possible. In this posts, we will look at one of these networks known as a “fusion center“. If you are looking to strengthen your regional FIRST coalition (or looking to join or build one), then this post is for you.

What Is A Fusion Center?

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Fusion centers operate as state and major urban area focal points for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between federal; state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT); and private sector partners.” Each fusion center is independently owned and operated and forms a truly collaborative relationship with DHS and its partners.

Working with DHS, your local/regional fusion center contact is uniquely positioned to receive, analyze and share threat related information bi-directionally between its customers and local/DHS contacts. Each fusion center to be fully operational must demonstrate the following Critical Operational Capabilities (COCs):

  • Receive: Ability to receive classified and unclassified information from federal partners
  • Analyze: Ability to assess local implications of that threat information through the use of a formal risk assessment process
  • Disseminate: Ability to further disseminate that threat information to other state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector entities within their jurisdiction
  • Gather: Ability to gather locally-generated information, aggregate it, analyze it, and share it with federal partners as appropriate

 

More recently, the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties (P/CRCL) was also added as a key priority ensuring fusion centers protect the privacy and other legal rights of Americans.

How Do They Do All This?

The fusion center receives support from its federal partners in the form of:

  •  Deployed personnel
  • Training
  • Technical Assistance
  • Exercise Support
  • Security Clearances
  • Connectivity to federal systems (upcoming blog!)
  • Technology
  • Grant Funding

Your role as a leader of a regional FIRST coalition is to tap into this information flow by building reciprocal relationships well before any event occurs. After all, you’ve heard it many times before …

During a crisis is not the time to exchange business cards!

How Do I Find My Fusion Center?

As a regional FIRST coalition leader, reaching out to your Fusion Center is a logical next step. If you’ve already made this contact – nurture it! Find ways to use the vast resources available to provide your membership value added services such as training, educational material and pass-thru risk intelligence.

Likewise, be a resource for your fusion center! Your FIRST represents a critical infrastructure resource – finance/banking and the more success your coalition has in terms of building membership, you become a critical communications channel for the Fusion Center back into the community.

Looking for a few action items to get you started?

 

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