Kamal Bherwani on GCOM'S Commitment to Justice and Public Safety
At first sight, Pensacola, FL, comes across as a quaint little town with a rich historical culture and sandy white beaches. Apart from the mesmerizing Gulf Islands National Seashore and the magnificent Blue Angels that attract thousands of tourists from around the country, Pensacola is also home to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) operations center. FDLE is driven by the mission and vision of promoting public safety and strengthening national security by operating and maintaining the State of Florida's central criminal justice information repository. The sole purpose of this Computerized Criminal History (CCH) database is to help criminal justice agencies conduct investigations, pre-empt terrorist activities, and make better decisions associated with employment, security clearances, and licensing.
However, FDLE confronted certain limitations with their legacy CCH system., Attaching multiple local "arrests" or added charges to a single booking created challenges that sometimes resulted in incomplete information. FDLE was determined to address that challenge. Under such a pressing situation, FDLE needed a partner who had extensive experience in criminal history system implementation and the ability to provide proper support to modernize their system.
GCOM Software—an innovative, tailored technology solutions provider to state and local governments nationwide, with a focus on replacing legacy IT systems—fulfilled all these criteria. "We modernized FDLE's state-wide legacy system with the GCOM Computerized Criminal History (GCOM CCH) solution and system integration services. The completed system improved FDLE's operational efficiencies, user experience and offered cutting-edge reporting capabilities and extensive system audit trails and monitoring," says Kamal Bherwani, the CEO of GCOM Software. FDLE had a secure, modernized, and easy-to-access location to collect, store, and disseminate all the criminal justice information. Furthermore, GCOM enabled FDLE to build robust mechanisms on their existing criminal case history to share information with the FBI seamlessly
FDLE is not the only agency that has utilized GCOM CCH to build additional capabilities for collecting, storing, and disseminating data with added efficiency. The company has helped myriads of state agencies to overhaul legacy systems that impede their velocity of reacting to new standards. But, how does the GCOM CCH cater to all the data-related needs of law enforcement agencies?
Criminal Record Repository Simplified
GCOM CCH is a cutting-edge, all-encompassing enterprise criminal case record management system. As a suite of business and technical services, it is built from the ground up using Software Oriented Architecture (SOA) principles to support the Sequence of Events in the Criminal Justice System defined by The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics. It helps law enforcement agencies achieve their objectives pertaining to the completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of criminal history records. "We refer to our product as CCH plus. Meaning it can handle the entire criminal life cycle, including arrest processing, disposition, parole, and probation. We can also manage the flow of fingerprint transactions from live scan devices," says Christopher Jacoby, Justice/Public Safety Practice Lead at GCOM. After this data aggregation phase from state jurisdictions, GCOM CCH shares all the information to the Interstate Identification Index (III)—a national index of criminal histories (or rap sheets) in the U.S, maintained by the FBI.
GCOM CCH facilitates the inter-state information sharing process. Generally, law enforcement agencies rely on the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS)—a nationwide network that links all states and many federal agencies together—for the exchange of criminal justice information. For example, if an agency from New York wants information about a person in New Jersey, they submit the request to NLETS. The FBI further processes the request, and through NLETS, the required data is shared. Using different adapters, GCOM CCH knows the communication protocols to grab information from diverse state criminal history systems and can send the information to those systems. "It is a cutting-edge CCH solution with the ability to quickly and securely integrate into the complex federal criminal history data infrastructure utilizing flexible and modern connectivity mechanisms. With highly configurable edits, business rules, seals, expunge rules, notifications, workflows, interfaces, and batch processes, it quickly meets state-specific requirements," says Rahul Puri, Chief Product Officer, GCOM. Going the extra mile, GCOM's solution can submit national incident-based crime-certified XML data to the FBI.
Secure, Proven, and Customizable
Apart from facilitating such complex processes, what makes GCOM CCH a "must-have" for law enforcement agencies is its advanced security features that help improve operational efficiency and accuracy through secure automation. The solution's security layers (embedded in the system) provide authentication and authorization services, including access control, and encryption for secure data transmission
While GCOM CCH is a modern solution built to support extensive and complex criminal justice systems, it is also very flexible- allowing for the specific demands of individual state law enforcement agencies. It includes many independent features that states can utilize according to their requirements. "We have worked with different government agencies throughout the nation, and their requirements were different. Our solution successfully handled all those," says Abid Bargeer, Public Safety Delivery Lead, GCOM
Additionally, GCOM CCH can deal with Criminal History Record Information (CHRI). Take warrant data, for instance, which is generally stored as hot files. GCOM CCH can maintain such hot files in different data structures within its domain.
Bargeer further mentions that beyond the criminal justice space, the underlying GCOM CCH technology is helping other agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, state education agencies, or children services organizations. These entities need to understand whether the person they are dealing with has a criminal history or not. For example, the New York City Department of Motor Vehicles has been utilizing GCOM to modernize its approach to data and customer relationships. "This task of background checking has been historically complex, owing to the shortage of data interoperability. Our GCOM CCH solution ensures an uninterrupted data flow, meaning that organizations can more efficiently understand their people," Bargeer notes. This plays a vital role in ensuring public safety.
Beyond the GCOM CCH
In addition to GCOM CCH, the company offers a Federal Information Reporting System (FIRES) that enables state agencies to manage National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) submissions from Local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) by accepting incoming submissions (LEA to state) and outgoing processing submissions (state to FBI).
Beyond Justice and Public Safety, GCOM offers solutions that help state and local government address Licensing and Regulatory needs across the full spectrum of licensing and certification processes, as well as solutions that manage Health and Human Services programs. One such solution GCOM Vital Records Management, offers a next-generation electronic vital event (birth, death, acknowledgment of paternity, and more) reporting, issuance, and records management system, the GCOM Vital Records Management (VRM) solution. As a fully integrated solution, it helps track and manage the process of registering vital events, data compilation, analysis, and dissemination. It is HIPAA compliant with security layers and features addressing access control, encryption, secure data transmission, and non-repudiation mechanisms that use electronic authentication. GCOM helped the New York City health department replace their age-old Electronic Vital Events Registration System (EVERS) by equipping them with their cutting-edge electronic birth and death registration tool system. Through facial recognition, the system allows doctors and funeral directors to certify essential events quickly and securely, leveraging a smartphone.
A Comprehensive Roadmap
Under Bherwani's leadership, GCOM continues to deliver new solutions for state and local government and expand its US presence. GCOM now has customers in 22 states – including 9 of the ten most populous and offices across the country. GCOM solutions are serving nearly 70% of the US population.
From the technology perspective, the company is continuously expanding and refining its capabilities based on its well-maintained technology center. As Chief Product Officer, Puri stated, "As opposed to many of the legacy competitors in this field, we never try to sell old systems. Our team believes that allying our years of experience with state-of-the-art innovation is the key to success for both GCOM and, most importantly, our clients."
Chief Executive Bherwani concluded by advising: "We are large enough to deliver on the most complex and demanding project commitments but still agile so we can meet changing requirements without premium cost structures." GCOM, creating a new paradigm for serving state and local technology needs.