Unlocking Information

22, 2013

The need for real-time access to critical criminal justice information continues to increase as resources for the states grow tighter and more restrictive. “There is a solution for the states facing budget cuts but in need of more information access; there is a low-cost entry into new data gathering mechanisms within their own existing resources,” explains Scott Sobotka, Programmer with Pragmatica LLC. Matthew Hudnall, Alabama CJIS, spoke to attendees of the 2012 Nlets Implementers Workshop about utilizing existing databases of reports and narrative text for full-text indexing.

Law enforcement agencies are able to duplicate data from criminal history repositories, motor vehicle department databases and hot files for searchable indexes. Sobotka continues, “Databases search for specific words or terms, with no room for errors, while full-text index searches are more flexible.” Hudnall and Sobotka demonstrated the success of implementing full-text indexing in Alabama and Maricopa County.

Sobotka worked with Maricopa County to gather existing XML files, namely narrative text, and index the data for searchable access. Law enforcement officials within the county piloted the system and discovered pertinent information for ongoing investigations. Alabama’s index, known as LETSDig, provides access to vehicle registration, driver license databases and court records to authorized law enforcement users. With the new capability to search this information in a full-text index, law enforcement officials have successfully tracked wanted people and found missing individuals.

The presenters encouraged attendees to research the free resources, Solr and Lucene, available to them as they index their existing databases.

For more information, contact Matthew Hudnall at mhudnall@cs.ua.edu or Scott Sobotka at scott@pragmatica.us.