Kansas expanding law enforcement records management system
It seems like every branch of the U.S. government, at every level, is making some change to records management practices. Whether it is President Obama's mandate that government agencies update to digital records, large statewide projects to improve transparency or even local government organizations working to update outdated procedures, the government is amid a records storage and management revolution.
This trend is clearly visible in the recent efforts of the Kansas Highway Patrol. The state-run organization has established a large-scale records management, digital citation, field reporting and court management system that combines key records and data from a variety of sources into a cohesive platform. According to a recent Government Technology report, the organization is now working to encourage local law enforcement bodies within the state to join the network, allowing for better procedures and improved data sharing throughout Kansas.
The news source explained that the Kansas Highway Patrol is so enthusiastic about the digital records management solution that it is offering local police stations up to three free concurrent licenses within the system during the next two years. This will allow these offices to explore the full implications of digital records management and a large-scale data sharing platform. After the initial period is completed, the organizations that choose to continue participating in the program will need to pay a small annual fee for each of the services included.
Mark Thurman, CIO of the KHP, told the news source that the new program has substantial potential when it comes to cutting costs, as it will allow many police stations within the state to go paperless, while also helping law enforcement agencies more easily obtain reports from the state. Furthermore, he said the system will make data gathering and general records management processes much easier to handle.
"The idea was to be able to capture the data once and use it whenever and wherever we need it. The goal was to make it generic enough to not only be used by the highway patrol, but by any law enforcement agency in Kansas," Thurman told Government Technology.
Thurman went on to point out that there were many challenges in establishing a system that could work for more than 450 law enforcement agencies. Dealing with distinct configurations at various stations was especially problematic, but eventually, the records management system was equipped for widespread use. Still, dealing with technological and ideological differences from one organization to another is a major issue. However, the overarching ability to collaborate more effectively and reduce operating costs is overcoming these problems, according to the report.
"Two years ago, nobody wanted to share their data [and] now they will. It’s a nice trend that I’ve seen. [Local police departments] see the value in it when I say ‘the highway patrol is putting their data out there,’ so for better and safer policing, it just makes good sense," Thurman told the news source.
Improving records management to enable better data sharing and collaboration between organizations is becoming more common in a variety of sectors, not just not just among government organizations and law enforcement. The need for collaboration is becoming especially clear in healthcare, where efforts to initiate advanced records management solutions to support data sharing between hospitals, physician offices and clinics is becoming more common. While the sectors where such projects are under way may vary, the goals are not. Better records management and data sharing delivers cost savings and operational improvements that help deliver a substantial return on investment.