The Cloud-Based Data Engine That Addresses Recidivism on the Local Level

Find out how Johnson County is using cloud-based data to address recidivism and increase access to public health services.


In a 2014 study, Johnson County, Iowa, found that local city and county services spent $2.16 million on arrests, processing, incarceration and medical and social services over four years on four chronically homeless men struggling with addiction in Iowa City.

David Schwindt, Iowa City’s Downtown Liaison Officer, said the four men in the study remained on the street and two have since died. But as one of 67 city, county and state governments participating in a jail diversion program through the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative, Johnson County can now make more insightful decisions to get a better handle on the these cases and improve their outcomes.

The cost of more than 11 million people -- 64 percent of which suffer mental illness and 68 percent have a substance abuse disorder -- funneling in out of more than 3,000 local jails cost municipal governments about $22 billion each year, according to DDJ estimates. Amazon Web Services served to convene the consortium in 2016, which was a White House effort aimed at safely reducing local jail populations and connecting people to effective care, according to AWS.

Cloud-Based Data Analytics

Using predictive analytics through AWS, DDJ combines and compares data so public safety and social services can identify super users who are cycling in and out of jails or emergency rooms, as well as gaps in needed services, explained Schwindt.

For each case, DDJ can identify available public services that could prevent further justice system processes and costs being triggered by that individual, and also discontinue services that aren’t delivering adequate care for that individual’s particular needs.

How DDJ Works in the Cloud

The AWS cloud infrastructure facilitates data exchange among participating DDJ jurisdictions. It is built on OpenLattice open-source integration platform, and AWS provides data transport.

The cloud platform enables jurisdictions to securely share data across public safety and health systems to enhance operations, identify those most in need of help and improve outcomes.

By using cloud technology to collect and analyze data, this consortium hopes to derive actionable insights that will help reduce unnecessary incarcerations,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of AWS Worldwide Public Sector.

The system provides access only to select individuals with access to certain data sets to facilitate both security and compliance, according to Schwindt. For instance, law enforcement does not have access to data protected by HIPAA and other laws.

However, DDJ data offers insights normally clouded by silos, he said.

“By merging all that data together within our AWS service, we’re hoping to be able to see that baseline so that as we introduce or change services, we can see how the outcomes are affected and tailor the services so that we get the best outcomes possible,” he said.

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