It is very common for justice practitioners to require access to information that resides in multiple systems, maintained by different agencies.  Consider the scenario where an officer is conducting an investigation and needs details about a specific individual.  For instance: Does this person have a criminal history? In what incidents has this person been involved? Does this person have any warrants? Does this person have active firearm registrations?   Similarly, an analyst in a fusion center may wish to conduct a “request for information” (RFI) on a vehicle or location associated with a suspicious activity report (SAR).

One way to retrieve this information is to require the officer or analyst to access multiple systems, individually, to search for and retrieve information about the individual. Clearly this could quickly become tedious—requiring the officer to not only have login credentials for each system, but also to find the time to access each system (perhaps travel to different physical locations), collect results, analyze the results, and try to determine whether information across these systems actually relates to the individual of interest.

An innovative, secure, and timesaving alternative to solving this problem is to use a federated query.  Federated query is a capability that allows a user to submit a request for information and receive matching results from multiple systems—without actually having to login to each of those systems individually.  A properly architected federated query environment also offers valuable security features—systems can determine whether the user requesting the information is actually authorized to view the information.  For example, maybe a user is authorized to retrieve information about warrants, but not information about juveniles.

The Open Justice Broker Consortium (OJBC) has developed federated query functionality based on open source technologies and open standards. These standards include the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and the Global information sharing toolkit.

The OJB federated query functionality consists of the following key components:

  • A web portal that allows authorized users to securely login, submit search requests, and view results from multiple systems formatted in a consistent manner
  • Intermediary services that route search requests to multiple systems and return responses to the user
  • A capability called “Entity Resolution” that analyzes all search results, before they’re returned to the user, and will determine the likelihood that multiple search results actually represent the same person or other entity.  This is especially useful in the common scenario where multiple systems do not share unique identifiers
  • Adapters that allow existing line of business systems (criminal history, law enforcement records management, etc.) to participate in a federated query

To date, the OJBC federated has incorporated the following kinds of information:

  • Law Enforcement Incident Records
  • Criminal History
  • Warrants
  • Firearm Registrations
  • Juvenile History

See the video below for a detailed demonstration of the OJB federated query: