Justice tackles standards for computer-aided dispatch systems

Two law enforcement government bodies have assembled a committee to address the problem of making computer-aided dispatch systems interoperable.

The Advisory Committee on Law Enforcement IT Standards, as the new group is known, should have draft standards ready within a year, said Paul Wormeli, executive director of the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute.

The Justice Department-funded IJIS Institute is working on the standards along with the Law Enforcement Information Technology Standards Council (LEITSC), a consortium of law enforcement associations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs' Association.

Today, there are about 70 vendors of computer-aided dispatch applications, Wormeli said. Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are finding that these systems need to work together since a disaster happening in one district may need resources of the nearby communities.

Getting the systems to successfully exchange data can be problematic, however, as each vendor has its own approach to handling data. The goal for the committee is to have these systems pass relevant data back and forth among one another, using the standards the group sets.

LEITSC is finalizing a set of functional requirements for computer-aided dispatch systems. Those standards describe what functions such a system should do, such as take calls and select the best unit to respond.

In contrast, the newly formed committee will work on technical standards for data exchange. The group plans to use the Global Justice XML Data Model as the basis for the exchange format, according to Wormeli. The IJIS Institute provides assistance for state and local law enforcement agencies that wish to tap into the Global JXDM. It also will solicit vendor input.

Over the next 60 days, the committee will finalize its list of priorities and hopes to have draft standards within six months to a year, Wormeli said. When state, county and local governments purchase computer dispatch systems, they can incorporate the standards in the request for proposals, hopefully getting the vendors to modify their products that meet these standards.

Documents and progress reports of the standards will be found on the IJIS, Office of Justice Programs and the LEITSC Web sites.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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