Today’s announcement of the OJBC Board’s decision to release the core components of the OJB publicly under an open source license is a major milestone in the evolution of our initiative. The OJBC started 3 years ago as a partnership between state integrated justice programs—in Hawaii and Maine—who recognized that they were building many of the same exchange components based on the same open standards, and ought to pool resources and share what they were doing. In the intervening time, the states of Vermont and Michigan have also joined in this effort. Today those states, acting together as the OJBC, along with those of us at SEARCH that have supported the OJBC, have taken this step to expand this collaboration and sharing even further.

Our main goal with the OJBC is to enable a more effective and efficient justice system through broader sharing of justice information, by lowering the costs and barriers-to-entry for justice information sharing. It does this in a couple of ways. Most obviously, it makes a great deal of functionality available, at no up-front cost, to justice agencies and jurisdictions—the founding states have already invested in building many of the components needed to implement integrated justice, and others can now reuse these components without incurring those same costs.

But the benefits of making the OJB available under an open source license extend beyond this, in a couple of important ways.

The OJB provides a platform that can guide agencies, jurisdictions, and their industry partners in implementing integrated justice solutions in conformance with justice community standards. Initiatives like Global and NIEM have, for some time, provided guidance on how to implement these solutions. The OJB takes that one step further, and makes this architectural guidance “executable” and “operational.” Government and industry teams and developers can focus on building the components relevant to their data and systems, while leveraging the OJB platform to handle a lot of the standards-based “plumbing.” Our expectation is that embracing the platform will encourage more rapid development of living, breathing information exchanges.

In addition, the OJBC open source project will foster a community around this platform, in which developers can discuss architectural approaches, collaborate on implementations, and ultimately share their work for use by others.

In future blog posts, we will explain more of these concepts in detail. For now: don’t hesitate to jump in, explore, grab the source code, and engage in conversations with other users and developers.