a common entity since they do not do fingerprinting for misdemeanors, it was really hard to pull all that information together. That was the big challenge out of this whole project."

Driven by public outcry following the murders, the team got the dashboard online in six months. The dashboard provides probation officers a single-page view of their caseloads. The view shows offenders' photos, known addresses and contacts, physical traits, previous and pending case reviews and check-ins, the level of supervision required and anything else of note. Should an offender have a run-in with the law -- even something as simple as a traffic stop -- that information is uploaded into the court system. That day's data is then transferred to the dashboard every night at 8:00. The next day, probation officers are given alerts if their cases have had any contact with law enforcement. Even if an offender didn't commit a crime, the dashboard will inform a probation officer if an offender was in contact with law enforcement after an assigned curfew.

"The biggest key to this whole thing was the alerts in red whenever [probation officers] pull up their daily list to go print it out and to go work with whoever they need to go see, it shows that somebody on that list might have a criminal activity that night or the day before," Cousins said.

In the past, probation officers had to log on to the court system and search records one at a time for any new information on their cases. When an officer might be working 100 cases or more at any given moment, the dashboard yields significant time savings.

"We get great reviews from the probation officers," said Department of Correction CIO Bob Brinson. "That's because there's a whole set of tools that Cindy and her folks have wrapped around this. You can slice and dice and say, 'Let's see, we need to do some drug tests today. Who do I need to [test]? Who is out-of-date on that? I need to go do a home visit. I need to go do a work visit. Of my 100 caseloads that I have here, where are the ones that need attention?'"

Cold Cases

The Probation Officer's Dashboard is also helping to track down thousands of offenders with whom contact had been lost. Now, because court and corrections data are linked, these individuals are being brought back into the fold.

"We' have a tremendous amount of absconders who do not report in and we've lost contact with them," Cousins said. "We had up to 14,000 [we'd lost contact with] at one time. Absconders may not understand that they were supposed to report in or they lost communication, but they may show up for court. That happens a lot. Well we know when their court date is. The officer now will see that they are supposed to go to court on this date for another charge.

"We also know when they got pulled over and maybe had a traffic offense in another county or something, so our officer can just log in like he normally does in the morning and see that one of his absconders had something happen like that and drill down and see the license tag and address information. We've gotten a lot of feedback that they've been able to pick up some of their absconders and issue the warrants on them."

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.