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The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics

The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics

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Information Sharing & Analytics

Information is the lifeblood of effective justice system efforts and transcends the operational needs and priorities of individual justice agencies. Enterprisewide information sharing is needed to respond to the day-to-day operations of agencies at all levels and across all branches of government. Information sharing can be:

  • the ability to access and share critical information electronically at key decision points throughout the justice enterprise.
  • the automation of information exchange between justice and justice-related organizations.
  • providing complete, accurate, and timely information to justice system decision makers, when and where they need the information. 

Using national standards and models significantly facilitates justice information sharing. SEARCH is a national leader in helping develop, support, and leverage national standards and solutions. SEARCH also offers a wide range of services, resources, and tools to support the information sharing and data analytics needs of justice organizations nationwide.

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The NIBRS Services Toolset provides law enforcement agencies, state UCR programs, and other users with tools to process and understand NIBRS data.

Justice Information Sharing Standards – Resources & Training

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is a community-driven, government-wide, standards-based approach to exchanging information. This approach, used by Federal agencies, all 50 states and internationally, leverages NIEM tools, processes, and technologies to help implement justice and public safety initiatives. NIEM facilitates interoperability and provides quick access to accurate, complete, and actionable data—such as solutions to protect citizens, respond to disasters, or detect prescription drug abuse.

Adopting NIEM is an important step in implementing information sharing initiatives. NIEM provides a “vocabulary” that practitioners use to represent the meaning and structure of the information they share. This vocabulary specifies interoperable messages for justice, public safety, intelligence, and homeland security.  It represents best practices and common understanding, which is what allows NIEM to ensure semantic interoperability across jurisdictions, while accelerating the definition of information requirements within a jurisdiction.

Using NIEM involves building Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD) for specific exchanges—a process that involves several complex steps and tools. SEARCH has been a leader in developing this process, and can assist jurisdictions in navigating it.  SEARCH has been involved with NIEM since its inception, and can offer practitioners expert advice on its proper and efficient use.

SEARCH Technical Briefs addressing NIEM and IEPDs:

Information Exchange Package Documentations, developed with SEARCH assistance:

What is JIEM, and how does it relate to NIEM?

SEARCH developed the Justice Information Exchange Model (JIEM®), a methodology supported by an intuitive software tool and guided by reference models, which allowed agencies to create information sharing plans. JIEM® integrated with both the Global Reference Architecture and the NIEM. While JIEM was a trailblazer in information exchange modeling, the tool used to generate NIEM-conformant information exchanges has transitioned to the NIEM-UML. SEARCH no longer supports or makes available the JIEM® Tool.

The Global Reference Architecture (GRA) is an information exchange solution designed to cut 80% of implementation time and costs for state and local justice agencies by reusing established promising practices in IT architecture and design.

It is like a “flexible blueprint” for helping organizations implement interoperable data sharing services. (Just as NIEM focuses on semantic interoperability, the GRA focuses on other necessary layers of interoperability, such as data transport, message reliability and security, governance and service implementation.) 

GRA solutions are made up of a combination of a connection method (Web Services), an exchange language (NIEM is encouraged), and the security specifications (encryption). These specifications are “packaged” into a GRA solution that is customizable to an organization’s needs. 

SEARCH has been a leader in developing GRA since its inception and has facilitated GRA implementations in Hawaii and Maine.  The GRA is a complex and involved set of specifications and guidelines. Our expertise can make your GRA adoption go more smoothly and quickly, because we can isolate and target your jurisdiction’s critical needs. Use our assistance and resources to help you identify, develop, implement and govern services using the GRA. 

We offer free, self-paced online training to help you gain a common understanding of the GRA standards, tools, methods, and processes. It is interactive and scenario-based, and allows you to immediately put knowledge into action—whether you’re an executive, senior manager, GRA project manager/coordinator, or implementer.

 

Access GRA Training

Justice organizations need ways to provide secured access to multiple agency information systems with a single log-on.   The information being shared is sensitive—so it is important to establish a trusted method to share it only with those who need or are authorized to access it.

The GFIPM framework provides a solution that is based on an electronic justice credential. This standards-based justice credential can be used to securely connect justice personnel to interagency applications and data over secured networks or the Internet by establishing an electronic trust between caretakers and users of critical information.

Initiated in 2005, the GFIPM program is part of the Global Initiative. SEARCH has long supported and helped develop key standards for information sharing and interoperability, such as GFIPM.

GFIPM involves federated identity, which allows a user’s roles, rights, and privileges to be communicated securely, and privilege management, which is the process of managing user authorizations. 

SEARCH offers assistance and guidance to organizations interested in GFIPM solutions, including interagency governance and policy guidance, technical specifications, and implementation. For example, this SEARCH Technical Brief provides guidance on GFIPM implementation.

Privacy Policy Development/Implementation

Justice organizations that develop integrated justice information sharing systems and strategies must develop or expand policies that protect the privacy of the information maintained within those systems. The specter of the theft or inappropriate use or disclosure of private and confidential information prompts many organizations, including justice agencies, to reexamine their privacy policies and to update them if necessary, or to create responsible and effective policies if none exist. In addition, a high priority for the justice community is to convert privacy policy to a form understandable to computers—in other words, supporting privacy policy implementation through automation.

Policy Development

The primary objective of a privacy policy for a justice information system is to demonstrate how an agency intends to abide by existing laws and public expectations for handling personally identifiable information, PII for short, which can be used to uniquely identify an individual. PII protection is particularly important in the criminal justice environment, as those from whom the information is collected—such as crime victims, witnesses and others—are often not willing participants in the criminal justice process.  Information in expunged or sealed criminal records should also be protected by strong privacy policies. These policies should address how a justice entity intends to deal with gaps or vulnerabilities in existing laws that govern PII management. 

For years, SEARCH has assisted States and supported national efforts to develop privacy policies by conducting conferences and workshops; convening task forces; developing reports and guides; participating in privacy initiatives of national working groups; and providing expert assistance.

In particular, SEARCH has participated in helping develop privacy resources: A Guide to Conducting Privacy Impact Assessments for State, Local, and Tribal Information Sharing Initiatives, which allows justice practitioners to examine the privacy implications of their information systems and information-sharing collaborations so they can design and implement policies to address vulnerabilities identified through the assessment process. It also includes a privacy impact assessment template that jurisdictions can use to conduct their assessments.

PIA Guide   |  PIA Template 

Technical Implementation

Meanwhile, converting privacy policy to a form understandable to computers continues to be a significant technical challenge and priority for the justice community.  The Global Privacy Technical Framework fills this need by providing a comprehensive approach and powerful tools to help justice and public safety practitioners automate the enforcement of policy provisions that protect privacy, as well as civil rights and civil liberties. The goal is to provide an approach and framework to protect privacy that is applicable to information sharing in the justice environment and that can be readily implemented using existing information technology architectures, standards, and software tools.

SEARCH participated in developing the technical privacy framework and is available to assist agencies with implementing it—particularly since it can be implemented using existing IT architectures, standards (GRA, NIEM, GFIPM), and software tools.

Privacy Resources

Open Source Solutions

Early adopters of GRA solutions—in particular, the states of Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont—have implemented key capabilities built using open source solutions. These states have shared these capabilities among themselves, significantly reducing their collective costs and cutting the time required to make the exchanges operational.

The Open Justice Broker Consortium (OJBC), the development arm of SEARCH, has created and evolved the following solutions:

  • Streamlined Federated Query. The OJB includes a powerful federated query engine that allows users to specify a search once, disseminate the search to multiple data sources, and aggregate the results into a single, streamlined response. The State of Hawaii uses this capability to provide practitioners with one-click access to warrant and criminal history information.
  • Security and Single Sign-on. Federated identity management supports single sign-on access to multiple services, improves security, and eliminates costly centralized user account mechanisms. It also is the foundation for automated privacy policy and access control enforcement. The States of Hawaii and Vermont are leveraging this capability to secure their federated query implementations.
  • Real-time Subscription-Notification. The OJB includes a flexible subscription/notification engine that allows practitioners to subscribe—automatically or manually—for notification of specific justice events. For example, the State of Hawaii is using this capability to create subscriptions for re-arrest of probationers and parolees. The subscriptions are generated automatically out of probation and parole case management systems, and the notifications are delivered to officers in real-time via email, allowing them to coordinate with law enforcement and take other appropriate action immediately.
  • Incident Reporting. The OJB facilitates sharing of law enforcement incident information at the local, state, and Federal level, by extracting incident information out of a records management system, sending the information to the broker at the state level, and routing charging documents to local prosecutors and incidents to the FBI’s National Data Exchange (N-DEx) system.
  • Web Portal. The OJBC web portal provides users with the ability to perform federated queries against multiple data sources and to review query results with entity resolution applied. The portal also takes advantage of federated identity management capabilities of the OJB. This means users can gain access to the portal using existing login credentials. The states of Hawaii and Vermont are currently using the portal to enable federated queries of criminal history records, warrants, incident reports and firearm registrations. Both states are also taking advantage of the federated identity management aspect of the portal to control user access to the portal and provide users with single sign-on capabilities.

OPEN JUSTICE BROKER CONSORTIUM

Justice Information Sharing Tools and Resources

Information Sharing Assistance

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