Owned and operated by the FBI, the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) system became operational in 2012. Its mission is to provide a free, accessible, and intuitive online tool for law enforcement to share, search, link, and analyze information across jurisdictions.
N-DEx is an electronic repository of unclassified criminal justice records submitted by agencies nationwide. It enables users to piece together seemingly unrelated data about people, places, and things and facilitates collaboration among agencies and investigators. Bridging and filling the gaps across traditional jurisdictional boundaries, N-DEx has proven to increase situational awareness, provide investigative leads, and help solve cases.
This database provides interagency access to unique data located in incident report narratives. Narrative information can be critical in investigations as it may shed light on additional associates, locations, or witnesses of a crime. The information, not formatted but still potentially useful, includes pictures, drawings, handwritten notes, or witness statements.
Other interactions relating to an investigation, such as inmate telephone call records, meetings between agencies to discuss a case, police impound records, and protection orders, can be recorded and shared in N-DEx as well. N-DEx has a keyword search feature that works like a search engine platform, combing through the database and returning all records containing the queried keyword(s).
The FBI’s Data Sharing Services Unit (DSSU) manages operational and strategic oversight of N-DEx. Its unit chief indicated that multijurisdictional access is an important feature for users and potential users, stating, “We really focus on the importance of national information sharing. The ability to share information across jurisdictional boundaries is so critical to the law enforcement and information sharing realm. N-DEx tells me the rest of the story and allows me to connect the dots on data association that I would not have known otherwise.”