News Release

Nation's Primary Law Enforcement Information-Sharing Network Upgrades to Cisco IP Network

Cisco Infrastructure Provides Rapid, More Secure Message Transmission For Mission-Critical Information Exchange Among 18,000 Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement and Public Safety Agencies
Sep 26, 2005

SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 26, 2005 - Cisco Systems®, Inc. today announced that Nlets, the International Justice and Public Safety Information Sharing Network, upgraded to a standards-based Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) network, delivering transmissions over the network in a matter of seconds, with greater security and enhanced capabilities. With its more than 41 million transmissions per month encrypted end-to-end across the Cisco infrastructure, Nlets now meets and even exceeds the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) mandate for improved security while supporting rapid message exchange.

Nlets, the nation's primary interstate law enforcement network, interconnects 18,000 local, state and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies. Any time one of these agencies needs information from another, the inquiry travels over the Nlets network. Nlets users can query out-of-state databases for motor-vehicle and driver data, criminal histories, Canadian "hot file" records, U.S. citizenship and immigration services records and aircraft-tracking and registration information. Nlets also routes homeland security messages and Amber alerts of missing children.

"Both citizen and first-responder safety is at stake with the communications over Nlets, so it's critical that we deploy the highest performance, most secure and reliable capabilities available," said Steve Correll, executive director of Nlets. "We simply must work to ensure that Nlets is never compromised or out of service in any way. Public safety agencies rely on the information that travels over the network to make decisions, and some critical information-such as, 'Is this person armed and dangerous?'-must be determined in seconds."

"For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Nlets' network provided the means for public safety and law enforcement first responders in the affected areas to communicate among themselves and outside the area," said Correll. "While we had one outage at the user end when systems were wiped out, we were able to keep continuous contact in most areas at lightning speeds, due to our state-of-the art system. Undoubtedly, some lives were saved as a result of the information sharing capabilities that has been a priority for the 18,000 agencies we serve throughout the nation."

Nlets, owned jointly by the 50 U.S. states and territories, was established nearly 40 years ago. In addition, all federal agencies involved in criminal justice and public safety subscribe to the network.

In 2000, after the FBI Advisory Policy Board passed a motion requiring public safety agencies to encrypt data end-to-end by 2005, Nlets administrators decided to upgrade the frame relay infrastructure to an IP-based foundation.

"We were looking for a partner that could deliver the upgrade that could work with us for the long term. Not only did Cisco offer the right solution, we were pleased that the company enjoys a solid reputation among our members," Correll said. "The members felt comfortable replacing their legacy network equipment with Cisco routers, and one way we provide excellent service is by using vendors that our members trust."

With a Cisco router deployed at each of the member agencies, Nlets now performs the required, end-to-end encryption.

"Even if an intruder were able to intercept a message sent across Nlets, the message could not be read or altered," said Morgan Wright, global industry solution manager for justice and public safety, with Cisco Systems. "Plus, this enhanced level of security comes at no cost to network performance. With all the advanced capabilities and scalability of an IP-based network, Nlets continues to provide the same fast message transmission, in one second or less, as the less robust, less capable network that it replaced."

Other important benefits have been realized in the upgrade of Nlets to a Cisco IP network:

  • New agencies can be connected more quickly and easily with the simple installation of a Cisco router by local agency staff, who are frequently already knowledgeable in operating and maintaining Cisco equipment.
  • The network has been made more reliable because local agency staff can quickly install hot-spare Cisco routers that have already been deployed to each agency location.
  • Nlets now supports more user-friendly communications. Its reliance on the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) allows for member agencies to easily reformat messages into the report styles already familiar to their personnel.
  • The Nlets administrative staff has achieved greater productivity with the adoption of a Cisco IP Telephony solution, which enables personnel to receive and forward voicemail and transfer calls utilizing the same converged IP network.

Darcomm, a Cisco Gold partner, designed and configured the new Nlets network. Cisco routers, switches and firewalls are deployed at Nlets headquarters in Arizona and at a backup facility in Idaho. A Cisco intrusion prevention system (IPS) helps Nlets protect network resources from unauthorized or malicious activity.

Cisco, the leader in public safety networking, offers advanced IP communications, security and mobility solutions. These solutions can provide a highly responsive and resilient public safety environment by connecting the entire chain of command, as well as law enforcement, fire and EMS counterparts to actionable information. This information includes converged voice, video and data that communicate the most complete picture available of a situation. Cisco customers include a range of public safety departments worldwide, such as Interpol, Washington State Patrol, Miami Dade Police Department, New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the City of Everett, Washington.