Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Web-Based Domestic Violence Protection System is Running in Florida

Dan Zinn, CIO in the Office of the State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit in West Palm Beach, Florida sends us the following description of their new web-based domestic violence protection system:

The Domestic Violence Information System (DVIS) is a web-enabled application designed to provide a centralized source for information about victims and defendants involved in domestic violence. The purpose of the project is to facilitate more effective interventions for battered women and their children. The project objectives are to: (1) Enhance court processes. (2) Protect and provide services to persons at risk for domestic violence. (3) To collect and share information between criminal justice and social service agencies.

The DVIS project started July 2001 when the State Attorney applied for and received a grant to develop a system of information sharing for the courts. The State Attorney's Office (SAO) took a leadership role in identifying the Stakeholders, business requirements and then led the development of the application. The following stakeholders participated in the development of DVIS: 
  • Eleven (11) Batters Intervention Programs (BIPS)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families
  • Florida Department of Corrections
  • Palm Beach District Schools
  • Palm Beach District Courts (15th Judicial Circuit)
  • Palm Beach County Probation (Pride)
  • Palm Beach County Public Safety Victim Services.
  • Shelters
  • State Attorney's Office (15th Judicial Circuit)
The information gathered from the meetings formed the scope of work and defined the architecture for the database. International Standards Organization (ISO) quality management principles were and are continuously used throughout the development process.

A major problem identified during the process was the high level of paper generated and the duplication of effort required. DVIS was designed to eliminate duplicate efforts and to provide a central point of information sharing. Where paper documents were required, DVIS provides the ability to print out forms directly from the database. Revisiting and reengineering several manual processes also eliminated the need for paper all together. In a typical case DVIS eliminates 144 manual processes previously required.

DVIS uses the information from STAC (see the March/April 2003 Court Technology Bulletin) to update the database. This approach eliminates multiple entry of information. Ten other circuits in Florida use STAC, in the future, DVIS can be implemented in other circuits without additional programming costs. Currently DVIS has 300+ users. DVIS is a .Net application that can connect to any SQL database. The application was developed using federal funds and is available to criminal justice agencies.