N-DeX: The Nation Data Exchange

Born after events leading up to 9/11, N-DeX is the FBI’s National Data Exchange. It was created to help share information across criminal justice agencies in the US.

There are hundreds of records management systems utilized in the US and until the evolution of N-DeX, there was no easy way to share information between jurisdictions unless records systems were already connected. N-DeX creates an easier way to link and analyze cross jurisdictional information. This way, police agencies can root out threats before attacks occur as well as accelerating the investigation process.

N-DeX is a cloud based system meaning that police agencies can access the system from any secure computer and there is no actual paperwork that needs to be sorted through and sent to retrieve information. Each agency participating will get a secure log in and user name to the database. And it’s free! Here is a video explaining more about how N-DeX works.
However, not all agencies are using the N-DeX system yet. Why is this? In order to get information to the N-DeX system, an agencies RMS system has to be set up and hooked up to export files. Not every agency, especially smaller ones, can afford the costs associated with configuring their RMS to send data.

There are some solutions to fixing this issue. One is to get the state to offer smaller agencies an RMS that automatically hooks up to N-DeX (Ohio is already doing this). Another would be to offer tax breaks to RMS companies that offer a N-DeX export option to agencies. A third more grant money to agencies who submit their data, similar to how agencies who submit NIBRS/UCR are eligible for more grant money.

N-DeX holds information from the entire criminal justice lifecycle including incidents, arrests, missing persons, service calls, bookings, holdings, incarcerations, pre-trial, pre-sentence, warrants, supervised releases, citations/tickets, and field/contact interviews.

Each individual agency gets to choose what kind of information they want to share with N-DeX. There are three tags for levels of information that an agency wants to share after the data is mapped and validated.

A green tag means an agency will fully share all information that is integrated into the system. A yellow tag means that the data tagged is viewable by only the record-owning agency point of contact. A red tag means the data is not viewable to any N-DeX user. This doesn’t mean an agency can share burglary data, but not robbery data. Some agencies may not be comfortable sharing juvenile information or rape victim information, so it gives them to option to withhold certain sensitive information. And, each agency wanting to use yellow or red tags has to explain which records and why.

So, does your local police agency utilize N-DeX? Call and find out! And let them know you’d like to see them on board with a program that is the winner of both the Government Computer News Agency Award and Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Award for Information Sharing!

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