What is fusion?
You might not be aware of it, but the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) (formerly Australian Crime Commission, or ACC) has the power to collect and share a wide range of data about individuals through its Fusion capability.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)’s National Criminal Intelligence Fusion Capability brings together data, intelligence, specialised tools, technical specialists and traditional intelligence to facilitate real-time intelligence sharing and analysis and to achieve the following outcomes:
- Build a comprehensive national picture of serious and organised crime
- Provide a greater understanding of known targets and threats
- Find previously unknown targets, groups and methods
- Link law enforcement and national security
- Inform effective prevention and disruption strategies.
Fusion was established in July 2010 as a key part of the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework. The framework looked to establishing a comprehensive and coordinated response to combat flexible, innovative and resilient criminal networks that operate across state, territory and national borders.
The name “Fusion” refers to the Commission’s methodology of fusing, mining and analysing data from multiple sources to improve the Commission’s understanding of known criminal threats and discover previously unknown risk.
It is powered by Palantir, an analytical tool specifically designed to facilitate information sharing across numerous databases.
Fusion is comprised of specialist teams (Fusion Monitoring, Fusion Discovery, Fusion Cyber and Fusion Special Intelligence Collection) that provide niche analysis capabilities and access to other agencies.
The ACIC considers Fusion to be integral to the results that they have achieved in investigating serious organised crime.
How does fusion assist the ACIC?
Fusion assists the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (formerly Australia Crime Commission or ACC) by facilitating the examination of bulk data and intelligence for trends, patterns and networks. Fusion allows the Commission to break down this data into understandable elements and form a picture of its current areas of interest.
Data is collected from domestic and international sources in both the public and private sector. This data can then be shared quickly between agencies, allowing the Commission to monitor known serious organised crime targets and analyse datasets or themes relating to those targets. Fusion even facilitates proactive monitoring through functions such as automated alerting, allowing the Commission to respond to developing situations in real time.
Specialists are seconded from the Commission’s partner agencies to evaluate, assess and make judgments and recommendations in relation to the information and intelligence generated by Fusion. These specialists include senior experienced law enforcement investigators.
Through analysis, Fusion can produce leads for referral to the Commission or other partner agencies which include the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
In an article published by the Herald Sun on 26 June 2015, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Operational Intelligence National Manager Dr John Moss was quoted as stating that prior to the establishment of Fusion, it would take an intelligence analyst about six weeks, or 230 hours, at a salary of $11,730, to search a list of high risk entities across the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)’s 1200 data sets to build an intelligence picture.
Using Fusion’s advanced analytics techniques, the Commission estimates this same activity now costs $350 and takes seven hours effort.
Who contributes to fusion’s capabilities?
A number of Commonwealth departments contribute to Fusion’s capabilities. These include the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Human Services and State and Territory law enforcement authorities.
Notably, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s co-operation with law enforcement agencies and co-ordination with overseas authorities is entrenched in legislation and is found in section 17 of the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) Act 2002 (Cth). Section 17 provides that in performing its functions under the Act, the Commission shall, so far as is practicable, work in co-operation with law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, in performing its functions under the Act, the Commission may co-ordinate its activities with the activities of authorities and person in other countries performing functions similar to functions of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The future of fusion
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s Strategic Plan 2013 – 18 focuses on two broad areas. The first is building the Commission’s capability and the second is working with the its partners. Fusion will continue to evolve under this strategic plan, to ensure that the Commission is able to effectively respond to current and emerging threats, and to create opportunities for it to share intelligence across partner agencies.
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