9 Dec 2011
Law Enforcement Automated Data Repository (LEADR)
Building on the success of a small open source project, two US states shared investments in developing a new information sharing system under an open source license for law enforcement agencies. In 1999 a grant from the National Institute of Justice funded additional development for the project. Today three states have the LEADR system running in their state data centers for law enforcement for the collection and analysis of information in the interest of public safety and they make the software and data sharing service available to any local agency at no cost.
Many organizations were involved in the creation of the project. In addition to the law enforcement user community, a third party facilitator, a commercial partner, a federal program partner, and a state legislator (senator) were involved in making funding available to expand the project beyond its smaller beginnings.
The success of the project attracted the attention of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in late 2008. DHS had funded many IT projects and wanted to consider how open source might play a role in their strategy to make effective investments of Research and Development (R&D) funds.
The main barrier to expansion of the project appeared to be the lack of a dedicated resource to do outreach. While the law enforcement agencies were busy fulfilling their public safety mission, activities such as marketing and community development activities such as writing papers, developing presentations and speaking at conferences fall outside their resource capabilities as well as their core program. With the tremendous benefit of such a project to achieving their operational objectives, the need to modify the model to maintain the software and associated community remains a priority for the states now vested in the project.
Recent additional interest in the project, a shift in the role and relationship between partners, and a general increase in acceptance of open source within US government agencies indicate a stronger long term outlook for the LEADR community.