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Fusion Centers and Emergency Operations Centers

State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) and emergency operations centers (EOCs) serve distinct, but complementary roles in supporting the country’s homeland security efforts. Fusion centers share information across all levels of government to support homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism, while EOCs primarily provide information and support to incident management and response/recovery coordination activities. Collaboration between fusion centers and EOCs enables both to carry out their individual missions more efficiently.

Fusion Center Overview

As described in the National Strategy for Information Sharing, fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among federal and state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) and private sector partners.  They produce actionable intelligence for dissemination. 

Owned and operated by state and local entities, fusion centers serve the specific needs of their jurisdictions while supporting the broader homeland and national security enterprise.  Fusion centers overlay national intelligence with local, state, and regional information, enhancing understanding of the threat environment across all levels of government.  They augment the federal government’s analytic capability and enhance situational awareness in order to protect the nation. 

Fusion centers leverage trusted relationships within the SLTT environment to assist law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism.  They support the implementation of risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs within their respective communities.  Further, fusion centers across the nation form a National Network that bridges jurisdictional boundaries to provide effective communication channels and collaborative opportunities. 

Emergency Operations Centers Overview

Multi-agency coordination of information and resources to support incident management activities occurs at EOCs. Unlike fusion centers, which primarily focus on crime and terrorism prevention, EOCs focus on the response to and the short-term recovery from an incident or natural disaster. The core functions of an EOC include coordination, communication, resource allocation and tracking, and information collection, analysis and dissemination related to a specific incident. EOCs help form a common operating picture during an incident, provide external coordination to on-scene command, and secure additional resources. EOCs also facilitate the sharing of all-hazards operational information and other subject matter expertise in support of incident management and response activities. While EOCs generally coordinate activities related to specific incidents, fusion centers support ongoing prevention activities and maintain situational awareness of the threat environment.

Most states maintain a state-level EOC configured to expand, as necessary, to manage events requiring state-level assistance when an incident occurs. Additionally, most local jurisdictions, tribal governments, and territories have either a standing EOC facility or the ability to quickly establish an EOC in multi-purpose space. EOCs may be organized by major functional disciplines (e.g., fire, law enforcement, medical services); by jurisdiction (e.g., federal, state, regional, tribal, city, county); or by some combination thereof. While some EOCs maintain standing watch teams, most EOCs are activated to support an incident. During “steady-state,” or the period between incidents, EOC activities and staffing decrease significantly, whereas fusion centers maintain consistent support and staffing levels.

Fusion Centers

Emergency Operations Centers

A fusion center is defined as a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.

The physical location at which the coordination of information and resources to support incident management (on-scene operations) activities normally takes place. An EOC may be a temporary facility or may be located in a more central or permanently established facility, perhaps at a higher level or organization within a jurisdiction. EOCs may be organized by major functional disciplines (e.g. fire, law enforcement, medical services), by jurisdiction (e.g. federal, state, regional, tribal, city, county) or by some combination thereof.

Focused primarily on prevention efforts

Focused primarily on response and short-term recovery efforts

Maintain consistent staffing levels to provide ongoing information sharing coordination and support

Some have limited steady-state personnel, but augment staff during periods of crisis or EOC “stand-up”

Owned and operated by state and local governments with support from all levels of government. Typically have broad reach through Fusion Liaison Officer programs across multiple disciplines.

Primarily staffed by state and/or local partners with minimal federal participation

Collaborative Efforts of Fusion Centers and Emergency Operations Centers

Though they have distinct missions and responsibilities, fusion centers and EOCs are partners in the homeland security enterprise. Coordination and collaboration between fusion centers and EOCs are crucial to improving the safety of the public. Different information requirements are associated with a fusion center in a steady state versus an active state. On a daily basis, fusion centers should be prepared to provide information on potential events to the EOC coordinators.

Fusion centers can play a valuable role in providing situational awareness to EOCs on emerging or potential threats so that they may be appropriately informed and prepared for activation. Fusion centers also play an important role in providing information and intelligence to support the incident management or response activities in EOCs during activation. This specific threat or incident information will assist EOCs better coordinate communication and resources during time sensitive situations. Additionally, fusion centers may provide personnel to serve as liaisons to EOCs during an incident so that EOCs have access to appropriate information and intelligence that may inform their operations. In return, EOCs provide fusion centers with situational awareness and warnings that can support ongoing all-hazards prevention and protection efforts. Exchanging actionable information and building relationships between fusion centers and EOCs provides for the timely exchange of accurate and useable information, thus improving the seamless execution of their respective prevention and response missions.

To provide guidance for coordination between fusion centers and state and local EOCs, the joint Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) Fusion Process Technical Assistance Program published The Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 502: Considerations for Fusion Center and Emergency Operations Center Coordination. This Guide outlines the roles of fusion centers and state and local EOCs within the fusion process and identifies the planning and coordination considerations each entity should take into account when working together to share information (i.e. via Fusion Liaison Officer programs). Collaboration between fusion centers and EOCs enhances their ability to share information and intelligence during an emergency, as well as in a steady state.

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