Community corrections and law enforcement agencies that use electronic monitoring devices to track the movements of individuals on probation, parole, or house arrest often face a dilemma when it comes to negotiating new contracts — switching vendors may save the agency money or give it access to innovative technology; however, the agency is likely to lose access to valuable historical information on demographics, locations, violations, and alerts because vendors store data in a proprietary manner.
The new Offender Tracking Record Transfer Service Specification, Version 1.0 , developed with NIJ funding and approved by the Global Standards Council on March 28, 2016, is a step toward resolving this dilemma as it defines the manner of electronic transmission of information from one computer system to another. Gaining approval from the Global Standards Council places the Service Specification Package in the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Global Information Sharing Toolkit. Agencies looking to enter into new vendor contracts can now point to the service specification package as a requirement in their requests for proposals. If the vendor agrees to follow the service specification package, the agency is then free to switch vendors at a later date, knowing that retention of historical data is ensured. Following the specification also streamlines the process of shifting clients from one system to another, and enabling information sharing across various software platforms and from one jurisdiction to another could enhance public safety.
The need for this specification was brought to NIJ’s attention by the community corrections and law enforcement administrators who served on NIJ’s Special Technical Committee, which was convened to develop a standard for electronic monitoring/offender tracking devices. To address the need, NIJ funded its Corrections Technology Center of Excellence to convene a working group of subject-matter experts familiar with offender tracking data collection to define the data parameters. The working group placed the resulting schemas for collecting offender tracking location data into an Information Exchange Packet Documentation, which defines the manner of electronic transmission of information from one computer system to another.
This Information Exchange Packet Documentation became the starting point for the development of the Service Specification Package, which provides the required instructions for vendors to follow to ensure that data are stored in a manner that is easily transferred. SEARCH, under a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, then refined the Information Exchange Packet Documentation into a Service Specification Package. A Service Specification Package is “a formal document describing the capabilities made available through the service; the service model that defines the semantics of the service by representing its behavioral model, information model, and interactions; the policies that constrain the use of the service; and the service interfaces which provide a means to interacting with the service.”
The approval of the Global Standards Council reinforces the capability of the community corrections and law enforcement community to use the Service Specification Package in their requests for proposals, thus ensuring vendors adopt its use into practice.
About this Article
The work described in the article was supported by NIJ cooperative agreement number 2010-IJ-CX-K003, awarded to the Colorado Seminary, which supports NIJ’s Corrections Technology Center of Excellence; and BJA grant number 2010-MU-BX-K019, awarded to SEARCH, which supports the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative.
This article is based on the grantee report Offender Tracking Record Transfer Service Specification Development, Final Report (pdf, 10 pages).
[note 1] The NIJ Offender Tracking Special Technical Committee met periodically from December 2009 to October 2015, under the direction of NIJ Corrections Program Manager Jack Harne to develop a standard, conformity assessment guidance, and a selection and application (users’) guide related to use of electronic monitoring devices used primarily by community corrections agencies.
[note 2] SEARCH is a national nonprofit organization of the states that serves as a resource for collecting, sharing and analyzing information, best practices and solutions for justice information sharing.
[note 3] SEARCH website, accessed July 2016.
[note 4] The Global Standards Council serves as a Global Advisory Committee (GAC) subcommittee, supporting broad-scale electronic sharing of pertinent justice- and public safety-related information by recommending to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), through the GAC, associated information sharing standards and guidelines.