E-Tickets Bring Recognition and Funding to Indiana Courts
January 31, 2011 by Annette Page
Indiana’s E-Ticket system has been one of the most recognized Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC) projects, in part because it has had a huge impact on officer safety and the reduction of data entry across agencies. Combined with Odyssey, E-Tickets offer law enforcement and courts an end-to-end electronic solution that saves time and money and increases the accuracy of the data. In September, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, selected JTAC’s E-Ticket System as a recipient of their Bright Ideas Award. Now, the E-Ticket project (or Electronic Citation and Warning System – eCWS) is at the center of a grant awarded to JTAC by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The NHTSA initiated their Incentive Grant Program to Prohibit Racial Profiling in 2006. JTAC partnered with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to apply for the grant in 2010; Indiana is among five states that were awarded funding, and will receive $885,460. This grant will fund the installation of Odyssey in five counties, equipment to law enforcement agencies in those five counties and other counties already using E-Tickets, and a collaborative effort between all three branches of state government to study the race and ethnicity data collected at traffic stops and stored in eCWS and Odyssey.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has provided additional grant funds in 2010 totaling over $200,000 for the E-Tickets project. These grants will fund deployment of the system to additional law enforcement agencies and enhancements to the software, such as the addition of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping.
The Year in Review
JTAC made significant strides in 2010 both with regard to deployment of eCWS and improvements to the software and its interfaces. As of the end of the year, 200 of the 522 law enforcement agencies in Indiana are using the system to issue 65% of tickets written statewide. Over 2.7 million traffic tickets and warnings have been stored in the eCWS central repository to date, and nearly a quarter of a million tickets have been electronically filed to 23 Odyssey courts. Over 6300 officers and staff are using the eCWS system, and nearly 25 additional agencies are in the queue for training.
All components of the eCWS system, including the desktop and mobile applications and the central repository, have been upgraded from version 1.5 to version 2.1. All users of the system are currently on the latest version. One major improvement to the software during 2010 was the creation of a night mode for officers working after sunset. The original software was designed with primarily dark text over a light background, but officers running the software at night found their computer screens were so bright that when turning away from the screen, their eyes had difficulty adjusting to the darkness outside their vehicles. The new night mode, available as a user preference in the software, is designed to display light text over a dark background. This feature improves safety and reduces eye strain for officers on the night shift.
As of 2010, eCWS interfaces with ProsLink, a system used by many Indiana prosecuting attorneys; CourtView and Keystone, two case management systems used by some Indiana courts; and, of course, JTAC’s Odyssey Case Management System. In addition, eCWS interfaces with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s (IMPD’s) Z-Client E-Ticket system. As a result of these interfaces, JTAC has electronically delivered over 6300 tickets to ProsLink in nine counties; nearly 56,000 tickets to CourtView in Lake County; over 41,000 tickets to Keystone in 11 city and town courts; and nearly 15,000 tickets from Z-Client to Odyssey in Marion County.
Since the E-Ticket project was first launched in 2007, JTAC has distributed over $1.9 million in grants for equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. So far, three state agencies (State Police, Department of Natural Resources, and Excise Police) and 183 local law enforcement agencies in 65 counties have received equipment through grants made by JTAC or ICJI. JTAC has an additional $250,000 to allocate to agencies in the queue for deployment, for equipment including laptops, barcode scanners, and in-car printers.
The Year Ahead
With feedback from law enforcement officers using the system and grant funding from state and federal sources, JTAC will be able to make several major enhancements to the eCWS software in 2011. One planned upgrade, funded by a $100,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant, is improved GIS mapping. GIS allows officers to capture the specific location (latitude and longitude) where an offense occurred, giving law enforcement agencies the means to analyze ticket data by location. This makes it possible for agencies to, for example, compare location and offense information and identify problem areas in their respective jurisdictions.
JTAC development staff will meet with users of the system to hold a design meeting and outline specific changes. Based on feedback received so far, we expect changes to include improved functionality for searches of intersections, mile marker references, and other locations; layout changes to the map screen; and migration to the new map data standard that improves the accuracy of map data.
JTAC will add functionality to the eCWS Prosecutor Screen, giving prosecutors the ability to not only file infraction cases to Odyssey, but criminal cases as well. We also plan the incorporation of the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Affidavit for Probable Cause into the eCWS desktop application. The majority of the information for the Affidavit will auto-fill from the ticket, saving the officer a tremendous amount of time spent completing paperwork.