Information sharing goes global

The threat of terrorism has given new weight to a push to integrate justice

and law enforcement information systems.

The goal is to allow public safety officials, from the police to the

prosecutors, to exchange in real time critical data, documents and images

that could help prevent future attacks.

One federally funded program called the Global Justice Information Network

Initiative (or Global for short) has existed for several years but has been

"re-energized" by the Bush administration, said Doug Bodrero of the Tallahassee,

Fla.-based Institute for Intergovernmental Research, which provides administrative

support for the program.

"Everybody realized all along integration was critical," Bodrero said.

"I think the events of Sept. 11 provided the catalyst. It dramatized why

we had to do it."

Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Justice Programs,

Global will create an electronic information exchange system based on widely

recognized commercial standards.

The initiative is steered by the Global Advisory Committee, composed

of representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement, correctional,

justice, and probation and parole agencies.

The committee is further divided into four working groups to establish

benchmarks ranging from technical standards to policies and protocol on

what data can be used and how. For example, Bodrero said one working group

has already addressed development of common Extensible Markup Language dictionaries

to allow disparate systems to communicate. The groups are:

* Determining and enhancing security standards and measures for legacy

networks and systems and for newer systems.

* Addressing information privacy; criminal history records; and intelligence,

juvenile justice and civil justice information.

* Developing and adopting technical standards for exchanging data.

* Encouraging extensive participation and support for information sharing.

Bodrero said the initiative is being driven by consensus, a mechanism

by which they can come together and build rapport. "We all recognize this

has to happen. Let's build the trust to make this happen," he said.

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