Criminal justice leaders have long envisioned how technology can expand and improve information sharing, only to be frustrated in their efforts. Now the justice community has extensible markup language (XML) in its sights, which will allow police, prosecutors, court clerks, judges and corrections officials to exchange information in a timely manner without breaking the bank.
Within the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Justice Programs put together a task force of 32 federal, state, local and international organizations to design an XML standard specifically for criminal justice.
Their hard work seems to be paying off -- funds are beginning to flow toward pilot projects, and more than 50 justice information-sharing projects now use XML.
In February, the National Governors Association awarded six states -- Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- each a $50,000 grant to run pilots to improve existing justice systems.
Also in February, the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced a new partnership encouraging use of XML throughout federal, state and local government. Government officials believe this is a major step in broadening how the public sector uses XML standards, especially the Global Justice XML Data Model (Global JXDM) being developed by the DOJ.
Making systems work is as much political cooperation as technical advance.