Policymakers need precise, consistent, and useful data metrics that enable them to quickly and easily understand how people move through the criminal justice system, and how related policy and financial changes impact the safety of their citizens.
But in criminal justice systems across the country, actionable data and information can be hard to come by. Critical data is often collected but not analyzed, analyzed but not shared, or shared but not acted upon. The result is a criminal justice system with a widespread desire to make data-informed decisions, but with individual agencies lacking the time, ability, or other organizational resources to do so.
It is clear that many government agencies understand the need to align the data available from different sources, but not all of them have executed a solution to address that need. One example where there have been broad efforts made is the recent launch of the Justice Counts initiative. That project is working to unite the large network of policy-makers, law enforcement, courts, corrections, and behavioral health in order to provide cohesive data that allows them to make better informed decisions as quickly as possible in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment, but that seems generally to be the exception and not the norm. Ultimately, uniting the myriad of data behind these and other government organizations will be critical to long-term success.
To understand how to apply such principles on a broader scale, it helps to step back and look at the general process used to unify diverse sets of data in order to better understand how that unification can result in more efficient and aligned decision-making.
How could such diverse data be unified?
An important aspect of data-driven insights is asking relevant questions about these large, complex problems. Consider the following: If you had unlimited data resources, what would you want to know right now? With a modern system, you can get answers at critical points in any program, often with data that is already in existence. For example, for someone who has been incarcerated, what is that individual’s prior criminal and release history? This can be used to create a holistic view for appropriate risk assessments and to ensure fair access to justice. It could also help ensure that agencies have the right quality of rehabilitative resources for people in custody.
Using technologies like the Snowflake Data Cloud could make getting those answers faster and more affordable, allowing alignment among law enforcement and prosecutors to courts and prisons. Here are three specific ways data-driven insights could help:
1. Create a single source of truth for law enforcement and policy-makers
A cloud data platform makes it easy to bring together data from all 50 states and also from localities across those states. You can model the data such that it is transformed as it arrives to match your desired format. This is likely much easier than getting everyone to change the formats they currently use. It avoids the need for a business process whereby different organizations regularly must send their data. With a modern cloud data platform, once it is set up, it stays that way unless the publisher revokes the share.
A modern data platform provides a single source of truth. It enables all stakeholders the ability to collaborate without limits while using current tools in place for analysis, including modern machine learning and AI. Data sharing can help resolve the question of who owns the data, helping to remove political and technical obstacles.
The issue that must be solved in the cloud is primarily one of data governance. How can agencies gain the benefit of leveraging third-party data, let alone share their own, and still meet stringent governance requirements? The Snowflake Data Cloud allows data sharing while giving organizations tools to retain control of their data. These platforms generally avoid copying your data; it remains resident in your cloud and uses role-based access protocols to enable data sharing in near real time, thereby giving all parties involved a view of current data. Likewise, your own ability to access data from other parties is in near real time. In this way, organizations can leverage the technology to better address legal and policy demands by supporting the privacy and residency requirements they impose. Agencies can maintain governance while gaining insight into other agencies’ data and are better able to ensure applicable regulatory compliance.
2. Enable intra- and cross-agency data sharing for accurate and timely decisions
Ultimately, the ability to truly improve public safety will require federal and state agencies throughout the country to share data. By creating better connections between people and data in a highly governed, near-instant, and more efficient manner, policy-makers and public sector leaders will be able to make data-driven decisions that increase public confidence and improve safety, security, quality of life, and socioeconomic opportunity for all citizens.
Snowflake provides the unique ability to share a curated subset of data with partner organizations without the data ever leaving its original location. This data sharing capability is at the heart of the Data Cloud. Such secure data sharing and collaboration could allow law enforcement and related departments to break down silos and access essential data instantly to work together to mitigate future risk.
3. Leverage fine-grained data to improve future safety for citizens
One of the main things to have come out of advances in machine learning and analytics is the realization that more data beats better algorithms. Not just a greater volume of data, but an increased diversity of data. Data from both modern and traditional systems, from within and across the criminal justice ecosystem, as well as data from federal, state, and local governments. To avoid comparing apples to oranges, it is also critical to make sure data is fine grained. Without fine-grained data, anecdotal evidence is all there is. With fine-grained data you move beyond basic trends and begin to understand what data and factors are predictive of future trends. Building modern data systems does not require lengthy development or large up-front costs. The data is already there—it just needs to make its way to the right people. Offering a cloud-built architecture, the Data Cloud is available on all major clouds and is easy to implement and scale. The connectivity is affordable thanks to a consumption-based pricing model and available technology grants. Data is meant to create connections. Even if your data hasn’t been used that way previously, the potential is there—and the technology is now here.
Visit the Snowflake for Public Sector page to learn more about how the Data Cloud can help your organization.
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