The state police have an inquiry system that "feeds" the federal government and the state, Dobek said. The Court feeds information through the inquiry system's disposition component and the Department of State component, which to date, has been done by submitting paper documents. The network will make paper submissions obsolete.

"We will now be able to grab this information with the network overnight as opposed to waiting for an interval that's convenient to a court to send it to us," Dobek said.

Centralized Database

The Judicial Network Project will also provide a centralized data warehouse where information can be stored and accessed.

"We're trying to leverage the state's data warehouse to move data from the respective court systems into the data warehouse, so we're able to find information about individual people or defendants across those 41 systems," Dobek said.

The data warehouse will give the state a two-pronged approach at improving the bad driver situation: more timely submission of information in electronic form and the ability to determine if a driver has pending tickets, according to Dobek.

"If I'm getting dispositional information from the courts in a timely manner, we're going to improve that reporting mechanism on those bad drivers," he said, noting that measuring success so far is difficult because the network is still being developed, but gutting the paper-based system is a big improvement.

"When you look at where we were before ... there were counties submitting paper, and we're talking about some of the larger counties in Michigan," he said. "Any time you have a paper-based system, you have no connectivity to the people submitting that information, and obviously information is not getting to the repositories in a timely fashion."

Dobek said when the system is complete, the secretary of state will receive crime reports from all over the state more efficiently. "It really improves accessibility and submission. The submission methodology is improving because it's more timely and it's electronic. The inquiry capability is improved because you've got connectivity now."

Getting all of Michigan on board is an ongoing process as Dobek and his staff evaluate the needs of each county.

"Some people have protocol dumb terminals at their desks, [and] they need a PC," he said. "We're evaluating if there's a PC on the desktop to access these systems. We're evaluating the cable requirements in each county."

When the network is completely in place, remote counties will query the system for individuals' criminal history or driving records. The hope is that a few bad drivers will be taken off the roads because of it.

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor