Until 2005 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
depended on a "thick client" approach to GIS that included ArcGIS
deployed at 12 field offices with limited means for sharing
information. Despite recognition by the FBI's director of intelligence
that GIS was a key technology for its work, no coordinated efforts to
manage the GIS initiatives were forthcoming. That changed in 2005 with
the Domain Management Initiative, iDomain. iDomain is a Web-based
mapping application based on the National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency's (NGA) Palanterra
(pdf), which is a secure, common operational picture Web portal held
behind the FBI's firewall.
The initiative grew, and in January 2007 the FBI's goal was to provide
specialized training and equipment for two or three users per field
office. Amy Pepper, a speaker at the ESRI Federal User's Conference in
Washington, D.C. and unit chief of the FBI, explained that training was
a big issue because eventually the FBI needed to provide more than 120
individuals with a full week of GIS training, outstripping capacity.
NGA assistance mitigated some of the overload. In the meantime, the FBI
formed a GIS subcommittee and launched an email list and Microsoft
SharePoint portal to share GIS tips and best practices.
As iDomain became an official project, management demands increased. It
was time to identify a life cycle management structure and develop a
detailed budget to obtain the required funding. The iDomain project
required a geospatial infrastructure; a four-phase implementation plan
is now ongoing.
Phase 1 - Palanterra behind firewall; Homeland Security Infrastructure
Program (HSIP) Gold data; users can upload individual case data
Phase 2 - Phase 1 plus investigative data warehouse
Phase 3 - Imagery
Phase 4 - Additional tools and data
The FBI is actively recruiting GIS specialists, though at present
iDomain does not yet have a dedicated staff. The project relies on NGA
training teams and computer-based training via a virtual academy.
SharePoint provides a way to share ideas about methodology (for
example, how did you find that bank robber?) between field offices.
iDomain's long term goals include the creation of a robust cadre of GIS
applications, the use of both thin and thick clients, and creation of a
directorate of GIS. Today there are more people in the field creating
maps because of these initial steps in developing a web-based
application. There are some growing pains but Pepper noted a lot of
progress within the last year. For example, Pepper explained how the
iDomain team geocoded a substantial amount of text data to obtain a
geospatial reference and make it available via the integrated system.
An FBI national conference is planned for the future.