Vimbai Chikomo Jan. 5, 2016, 10:27am

The Cook County Board has approved the purchase of new technology to allow justice agencies within the county to share data electronically.

On Dec. 16, the board approved $2.3 million for the purchase of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to improve the efficiency of communication between the different software applications used by the various justice system-related offices within the county, namely, those of the Chief Judge, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Public Defender, Sheriff, State’s Attorney and the Bureau of Technology, which operates under the Office of County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The ESB will be purchased from Applications Software Technology Corporation (AST).

“The County utilized its competitive RFP process to select AST as the implementation vendor,” Joel Inwood, Public Information Officer at the Cook County Bureau of Technology, said. “AST was evaluated by a cross-functional review committee on the basis of established criteria and was selected from a pool of nine proposers.”

Plans to acquire a new data system have been in the works for a long time. In 2002, the Cook County Board established the Cook County Integrated Criminal Justice Information Systems (“CCICJIS”) Committee. The purpose of the CCICJIS Committee was to develop an integrated criminal justice enterprise for Cook County.

Since then, the committee has made steady strides towards integration of the County’s criminal justice enterprise.

In a release from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's office, Preckwinkle stated that creating a way to transfer data efficiently and smoothly between the various justice agencies of Cook County justice is extremely beneficial.

Now that the Cook County Bureau of Technology has been given approval by the Board to implement ESB software and hardware, and to develop and manage services for data exchanges among County criminal justice agencies, the county’s criminal justice enterprise is expected to function even more efficiently than before.

“This contract covers two exchanges: the charging information feed (Single-direction, State's Attorney-to-Clerk) and the Mittimus Feed (Single-direction, Clerk-to-Sheriff),” Inwood said.

“It has the potential to accommodate more than 30 other exchanges identified in Cook County Integrated Criminal Justice Information Systems (CCICJIS) Committee meetings, on which all stakeholders in the criminal justice system have members. It could also be used for non-criminal justice interagency communication. It is a dynamic service-oriented technology that could potentially bring greater countywide IT integration,” he explained.

As confident as the Cook County Bureau of Technology is in the benefits of ESB, Preckwinkle mentioned in the release that the potential benefits of the new system would depend on process improvements and how much the county's other officials buy in on the new technology.

Inwood told the Cook County Record that there has been widespread support from all the agencies so far and said they are hopeful that the support will continue.

“All the county justice agencies participated in this process every step of the way since the beginning. It is in their best interest to continue to fully participate, and given their investment to date we hope they use the system to its maximum potential,” he said.

More News