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Back to Archives | Back to June 2005 Contents 

The Pathway to Success in Information Sharing:
Where the Global Justice XML Data Model Is Today

By Domingo S. Herraiz, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

oo often, law enforcement efforts are compromised by the lack of timely information. Practitioners in the field who face this frustration recognize that the need for better information in a timely manner is critical.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) through the work of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) provides a technological tool that allows for seamless and timely information sharing across jurisdictional and departmental lines. The Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM) is a tool that allows data to be shared and understood among different systems. As GJXDM is adopted by more agencies across the nation, effective and efficient information sharing is becoming a reality.

GJXDM Defined
Imagine a traveler visiting various countries, each with a different language. It is not feasible or realistic for the traveler to learn all these different languages. But if these different countries used a common language, in addition to their own language, the traveler could communicate in all these countries. GJXDM serves as this common language through which agencies can communicate with each other.

GJXDM provides many other benefits. Economically, GJXDM is cost effective in the same way that prefabricated houses are built more efficiently and cost-effectively. GJXDM supports using ready-made components for agencies to build their own system, without replacing current equipment or systems. Because it defines a standard justice application nationwide, it reduces the resources needed for jurisdictions to create their own systems. If applied to the process of connecting the approximately 30,000 justice agencies across the country, the possible cost savings could be in the billions.

GJXDM is a mature system, proven through extensive real-life use, with widespread recognition. It was developed and continues to grow through the collaboration of experts from the private and public sectors. Although designed primarily for the justice community, GJXDM is flexible enough to meet diverse needs of other organizations for their own requirements. When a single new agency is added to the database, GJXDM expands and grows exponentially.

Private-Sector Contribution
From the beginning, OJP involved the private sector in developing a national technology standard for information sharing. Using the model of collaborative leadership, OJP brought together teams of justice practitioners from local, state, and federal agencies and technical experts from academia and industry to make recommendations concerning technical specifications, and to help develop consensual standards. Organizations such as the Integrated Justice Information Sharing Institute were crucial to the initiative's success.

Examples of GJXDM Implementation
Wisconsin has successfully employed GJXDM. The law enforcement telecommunication network used in Wisconsin is a GJXDM-compliant system called Transaction Information for the Management of Enforcement (Time). It is used to obtain driver and vehicle records, to check for wanted persons and stolen vehicles, and to obtain criminal history records. For the thousands of police officers who use Time; their mobile data systems, 911 dispatch, and records management applications interface directly with Time. Separate applications are not needed to run Time transactions.

GJXDM has also provided a low-cost prosecutor case management system in Wisconsin. Called the Prosecutor Technical Case Tracking (Protect) system, the system is used for reporting "no prosecution" dispositions to the state criminal history repository. This greatly reduces the number of open cases received on a criminal history search.

Previously disparate systems now display information to individual users and provide real-time incident data, allowing for mobile computer based incident reporting. Syracuse Police Department's mobile computing system allows 17 cities to share information on criminal incidents using GJXDM. It is currently being expanded to other counties in central New York. Maricopa County, Arizona, has entirely automated its arrest and booking information exchange through GJXDM. Once an arrest is made, information is instantly shared with multiple agencies throughout the state, including the Phoenix Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Maricopa County's Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (ICJIS), and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

A San Diego regional information-sharing project represents another system that allows the San Diego Harbor Police Department to share critical data with the Unified Port of San Diego, the Los Angeles Port Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The system ties agencies together by pulling information from various data sources to share among these agencies. Similarly, the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network (OLLEISN) created a single system based on GJXDM that allows for statewide interoperability. Ohio pooled its funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to build the system that will allow for information exchange among 900 separate police departments.

DOJ'S Collaboration with DHS     
In February, the Department of Justice announced its partnership with the Department of Homeland Security in expanding GJXDM usage by creating a National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). The model opens the door for other government agencies to use GJXDM in a concerted fight against terrorism and crime.

Despite the enormous task, the first four years of OJP's Information Technology Initiative has progressed on schedule. But since the 2004 release of GJXDM, momentum is building and progress is accelerating. Interest from the field has skyrocketed, as have requests for resources and technical training and assistance. OJP is responding through a wide variety of resources, including an extensive Web site at (, an e-mail list with more than 300 active participants, technical assistance and training, and soon, a national helpdesk with a call center.

Currently, more than 200 justice information-sharing projects using the XML Data Model are well under way. OJP continues outreach to state and local officials to inform them of the potential GJXDM holds and encourages eligible local and state jurisdictions to use BJA's Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program funds to support information sharing initiatives.

Law Enforcement Information Sharing Strategy
The Department of Justice has developed a comprehensive initiative to confront and overcome barriers to information sharing, the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Strategy (LEISP). The LEISP initiative is a nationwide law enforcement information-sharing collaborative connecting multiple partners such as the FBI, other DOJ components, DHS, the intelligence community, and local law enforcement agencies across America.

The goals of LEISP are for law enforcement agencies nationwide to be able to access shareable DOJ information in a timely and secure manner. With less time spent requesting information, law enforcement can focus on transforming information into knowledge. Because guidelines for ensuring security, privacy and accountability are strictly enforced, LEISP partners can readily share information among each other.

The Future of GJXDM
The GJXDM project has entered a new phase of accelerated growth to a point where the specific critical issues are being identified and addressed. Today's justice practitioners go through extensive security to access information. Simplifying this process, through technology that safeguards access, is the next obstacle to overcome. Federation identity addresses this by creating a group of trusted users who securely access resources from one another. Federations operate like passports, granting permission to individuals whose identities have already been validated. The federation concept reduces costs, simplifies integration, and allows users to share resources with a large base of trusted partners. OJP, in collaboration with DHS, is encouraging several local, state, and federal agencies to explore the development of a prototype project relating to this.

Additional future strategies for information sharing include creating a standard for computers to ask questions and move data among each other. Such standards will provide users access to more information in a consistent format, while reducing costs. OJP is also encouraging the participation of local, state, and federal agencies in the development of a demonstration project related to this need.

A National Imperative
Widespread adoption of XML-based exchange models is a national imperative. OJP is working hard to do its part. This initiative must be a collective effort where the federal government creates the best environment for collaboration among private industry and agencies at the local, state and tribal level. The outpouring of creative solutions from this collaboration has brought forth GJXDM's success. Working together, under a shared vision for effective and efficient information sharing, will provide better services and protection of the United States. ■



From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 6, June 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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