N-DEx: Evolving with User Needs

Criminals and terrorists don’t sit idly by and wait for law enforcement to find and arrest them. They evolve. They improve. They increase the complexity of their schemes and tactics to avoid the authorities. Like an arms race between two rival nations, law enforcement must also continually improve technology and strategy to keep pace.

Since its inception in 2008, the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) has provided law enforcement nationwide with a safe and secure online environment where they can view and share pertinent information (e.g., images, videos, charts, graphs, notes, and case reports) in real time. It connects records from the entire criminal justice lifecycle, making the data available to agencies coast-to-coast. But what if N-DEx users had the means to search international records? Suspects and fugitives would have fewer places to hide, figuratively speaking. The world would become a smaller place, and our nation, a safer place.

Then and Now: The Advancement of the N-DEx Program

Since its initial launch, the N-DEx Program has offered useful tools to help reveal hidden patterns and leads. Agencies that may not have otherwise collaborated while investigating seemingly unrelated cases were given the ability to join forces and share vital information. With more than half a billion records from nearly 5,700 agencies nationwide at their disposal, users have a resource to connect the dots across jurisdictional boundaries.

In 2014, the FBI’s collaboration with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) gave N-DEx users access to approximately 68 million INTERPOL records, unveiling a new world of information and potential leads. INTERPOL is an organization that promotes cooperation between the law enforcement authorities of its nearly 200 member countries. This partnership allows N-DEx users to conduct structured searches on an international scale. In 2015, an N-DEx System enhancement provided users with the ability to retrieve images of subjects associated with INTERPOL data, increasing their potential to make a positive identification.

Moving Forward and Saving Time with Batch Query

When users’ investigations require multiple searches of a long list of names, dates of birth, vehicles, and passport information, it can be daunting to search each detail individually. Users could easily get bogged down for hours or even days conducting the seemingly endless list of searches one by one. To address this issue, the N-DEx Program recently added a function called Batch Query to the system. The Batch Query enhancement saves users time and effort by giving them the ability to conduct thousands of searches all at once rather than performing each search individually. This recent enhancement also allows users to schedule queries to automatically run on a recurring basis based on their needs, share their search results with other N-DEx users, and apply filters—geographic, date, data source, or originating agency identifier—to the query.

You’re Talking; the N-DEx Program is Listening

The nature of crime in the modern world continues to evolve. To keep pace in the never-ending “arms race” of technique and technology, the needs of the law enforcement community continue to evolve right along with it. N-DEx’s goal is to meet those needs by providing a powerful, practical information-sharing system to crime investigators all over the country. As new needs arise, who better to recommend system improvements and enhancements than the users themselves? The N-DEx Program Office welcomes the comments and suggestions of its users and adapts its service to meet their ever-changing needs. To that end, N-DEx introduced a User Feedback tab to the system interface as a mechanism for users to provide general comments or suggestions, share success stories, report problems, or request additional information. The User Feedback tab routes all comments directly to the N-DEx Program Office without users ever having to log out of the system. Do you have an idea for future system enhancements? The N-DEx Program Office is eager to hear about it.

Get in Touch with the N-DEx Program

Criminal justice professionals can learn more about the N-DEx Program by contacting the N-DEx Program Office via e-mail at ndex@leo.gov. Current N-DEx users can receive assistance through the use of the User Feedback tab or by telephone at 304-625-0555.