What is Data Sharing?
Data sharing provides authorized individuals with a broader range of information that they would not have access to without the software. Data sharing allows for the contribution of data among partners and provides opportunities for collaboration. Similarly, data integration is a type of data sharing that merges data based on common data fields.
Data Sharing & Community Corrections
In 2008, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) pioneered an effort to create a system for information sharing between all federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The data gathered includes incident and case reports, arrest reports, traffic citations, photos, booking and incarceration data, parole/probation information, and more.
As of 2013 only about 4,200, or 23%, of agencies were utilizing and contributing to the National Data Exchange (N-DEx). Today, more than 8,000 criminal justice agencies contribute to the N-DEx, which is still less than half. There are many factors that contribute to the slow adoption of this new technology, including cost and politics.
The FBI also manages and operates several other crime information systems. Among them is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which enables criminal justice agencies to enter or search for information regarding stolen property, missing or wanted persons, and to obtain criminal histories. The FBI criminal databases utilize biographic data, which includes but is not limited to fingerprints and facial recognition.
Private companies, such as ClearForce, have also recognized the importance of data sharing and have committed to providing push-based alerting data to assist with community supervision. ClearForce takes a biographical approach, comparing full name, address, and date of birth rather than biometric proponents such as fingerprints Tom Miller, CEO of ClearForce, states that this is the “most scalable, most economical, and least-intrusive capability that can be utilized for monitoring community safety.”
Another such company is Julota, who offers cloud-based data sharing solutions for law enforcement. According to their website, data sharing requires relationships of trust within and across organizations. Perhaps the new age of technology and data sharing will inspire increased collaboration between agencies to further refine community corrections.
How Data Sharing Can Make Public Safety Efforts More Efficient & Effective
Data sharing across agencies and different levels of jurisdiction is a critical component of community supervision. By granting probation and parole officers access to booking and arrest data, they are equipped with the tools necessary to take proactive action toward reducing recidivism. With an added layer of monitoring, officers can use the full picture to their advantage for effective resource allocation and supervision practices.
Probation and parole officers typically manage large caseloads, and it may be difficult to maintain consistent supervision at a high volume. A data sharing database enables officers to quickly search for relevant information regarding their clients when conducting investigations, risk assessments, and reports of non-compliance. Data sharing allows officers the ability to make connections between investigations based on information they would not have otherwise had access to, as well as locate clients under other jurisdictions if they have committed an offense in another state. The ability to subscribe to alerts also gives probation and parole officers an edge on monitoring large populations.
When officers adhere to evidence-based practices, probation and parole are an important part of helping individuals not recidivate post-incarceration. Though data sharing is not a new concept, its adoption to improve public safety and community corrections continues to grow. With full-scale participation of data sharing, officers will be better equipped to successfully monitor their caseloads and ensure their successful return to society.