Name of the game for Maricopa? Data integration

What's in a name? Or for that matter, what's in five or more names? Quite a bit of confusion, it turns out, for Maricopa County's criminal justice system.

Five criminal justice agencies in the Arizona county had different case naming processes, not to mention five different IT departments and computer systems.

The names and systems involved as cases that moved through the criminal justice process led to inefficiency, but the county is consolidating the systems to improve case management.

Cases were tracked through the county's criminal justice system under five numbers used by the sheriff's office, county attorney, clerk of the court, superior court and public defender. Clerks wrote the case numbers on the files. Even some divisions within the departments had their own computer systems and case naming processes, such as the adult probation division.

It created 'extra seams in the system,' said Larry Bernosky, manager of data integration projects for the Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (ICJIS).

The remedy 'sounded so simple'just give each case a common number,' Bernosky said. 'But there are a lot of business issues involved in this.'

Bernosky and his team met with county employees in more than 20 sessions over the course of several months to hash out the business specifications for a common case numbering system and other ways to reduce paperwork and redundant data entry. About 25 county employees participated in each of the 2 and 1/2-hour sessions.

One of the first decisions the ICJIS team made was to keep the justice agencies' existing IT departments, Bernosky said.

ICJIS officials spent about six months deciding how to unify their systems. They chose an architecture based on a Java 2 Enterprise Edition framework, Web application tools and middleware to link existing systems.

Beginning Jan. 2, cases were assigned a single number at the initial court appearance, Bernosky said.

Bernosky and his development team used AllFusion process modeler and AllFusion ERwin data modeler from Computer Associates International Inc. to model the data and share plans with the agencies.

The five agencies are participating in ICJIS in phases, Bernosky said.

Development of ICJIS, from modeling through testing, cost about $150,000, Bernosky said. When fully deployed, ICJIS will serve about 1,000 users.

About 20,000 cases since Jan. 2 have been assigned common case numbers, Bernosky said.


About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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