This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Record.
When it comes to football, you don’t have to be an avid fan to know which teams are winning or losing. Referees keep score and statisticians analyse players’ performances. Good teams proceed to the playoffs where the winners are awarded trophies. Players and coaches are paid based on a statistical analysis of their performance. Meanwhile, the losing team reviews game footage to analyse the strengths of the winners and make personnel changes to boost its odds of winning in the future.
But what would happen if we didn’t keep score or have statistics to show us which players performed well, and which ones did not? A scoreless season would allow any team or individual player to claim that they were better than any other. Fair compensation would be almost impossible without performance measures. Without data, chaos would reign.
Today, many jails operate much like a scoreless football season. Management teams assume they know how things work because they’ve been doing things the same way for a long time. However, they don’t have data, so they don’t know. Without data, leadership teams are unable to compare the jail’s current and past performance, benchmark themselves with other jails, or manage operations effectively.
New jail management systems – such as the Microsoft Dynamics-based DXC Offender360 solution – will forever change the way jails operate. Task lists remind staff to perform necessary duties and well-designed software electronically captures vital information in permanent digital logs, rather than a paper-based log. Microsoft Power BI and analytics tell shift commanders about trends in jail populations and available bed space. Real-time monitors push booking data out to staff, showing workflow backlogs, which booking tasks have been completed and which still need to be done. Dashboards provide high level reviews of all jail functions.
Data is already reordering an area of law enforcement that has been largely reactionary. Analysis of jail populations, for example, has spawned the growth of pre-trial services. Data gives true insights into the best ways to manage a jail, prompting leaders to analyse existing processes and question long-held beliefs. Employees who are attuned to the benefits of data will find innovative ways to apply new solutions. Jails are late to the data/information party, but they’re here now and DXC is at the forefront of this change.
Roy Minney is the justice and public safety product manager at DXC Eclipse
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