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NC rolling out upgrade to crime database

An app that has cut costs by $12 million annually and helped make North Carolina safer is getting a makeover.

In pilot testing now, Version 2.0 of the Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services (CJLEADS) application will be able to search federal data sources in addition to the multiple state databases the app currently integrates with.

As part of that new ability, the state is adding multifactor authentication, not just the current role-based login required now. “That’s real important to meeting [Criminal Justice Information Services] requirements, which we need to meet in order to have access to that federal data,” said John Correllus, deputy state CIO and chief data officer.

Additionally, 2.0 will be a web-based fully responsive HTML 5 app. The current mobile version functions more like a native app that must be downloaded and installed, he said. The mobile app will have all the functionality of the desktop version and will not use Flash, unlike the current version.

Correllus said he expects deployment of the new version to start in the next couple months and take about 12 months to fully rollout, during which time the state will run two systems simultaneously.

So far, the web-based app, which has been in use since 2009 and currently supports about 30,000 users, has seen lots of success. Besides the cost savings, it’s helping criminal justice officials do their jobs more efficiently. For example, a law enforcement officers arrested the occupants of a stopped car after searching their names through CJLEADS and finding that they had outstanding warrants.

Based on the SAS Institute’s SAS Enterprise BI Server, SAS Enterprise Data Integration Server and SAS Enterprise Miner, the system involves federated queries and a cloud-based warehouse hosted by SAS. It taps into myriad state databases that house information on criminal court cases, probation, prison incarceration, sex offenders, concealed handgun permits, state driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and hunting and fishing licenses, for example. Users log into the app, enter a search query and get results that they can explore more deeply.

Role-based security prevents personally identifiable information from being seen by anyone who doesn’t need that access, Correllus said, and the whole system is protected by HTTPS.

“From the officer on the street to the magistrate to the prosecutor to the judge to the probation officer to the juvenile justice officer, or anyone on that continuum of criminal justice, they all have a need for information on a citizen or offender in order to make an informed decision,” said Carol Burroughs, the assistant director of the Government Data Analytics Center  and the assistant deputy state CIO. “Behind the scenes, what’s happening is they’re actually going to an enterprise warehouse where we have combined all of these records and are bringing that back to them through a viewer. It’s just a web-based tool available on any device.”

Before CJLEADS, officials would have to search each database individually.

CJLEADS presents “a single view of an offender,” Burroughs said. “It was a great efficiency when this came in, and that’s why there’s such widespread adoption.”

Additionally, CJLEADS has a watch list capability that lets users alert others when they are watching an offender. They can also monitor changes in an offender’s status, such as an arrest or release from custody.

The biggest challenge with CJLEADS is data integration, “the quality of the data, developing the right analytics tools to match the data appropriately,” Burroughs said. “We have web service calls that go out to some of these systems, some of the systems send us batch data. It depends upon the data and how current the data has to be when the user is using that information.”

North Carolina spends about $8 million per year on CJLEADS, including hosting, software, round-the-clock support, new development and administration costs.

“We feel like we’re protecting our citizens and our law enforcement community better with this tool,” Correllus said, adding that it’s a boon to productivity. “Quicker decisions are made by being able to access one single view.”

Looking forward, the CJLEADS team is in discussions now about how to create analytics around incident data and support intelligence-based case management to predict and prevent crime. The result would become a new application, however, so as not to confuse users with CJLEADS, Correllus said.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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