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Integration and E-Services in Estonias Police Information System [2]

Kai Jger, Vallo Pensa, Triin Toks, Andrus Voolaine, Oliver pik, Development Division, Information Systems Bureau, Estonian Police Board

When ensuring public order and security, the police today can offer services to people which are made possible by modern information technologies. This helps to enhance public trust in the police, and it also improves the effectiveness of police work. The police need information from the databases of government institutions and the European Unions information systems for crime prevention and investigation. This article focuses on how police information systems are interfaced with online systems through E-services and mobile E-police solutions.

Estonias Police Board could not handle the tasks which are required of it by law if it did not use various information systems.  A speeding ticket, for instance, requires information about the offenders personal data, as well as about his or her criminal record, if any.  Processing of misdemeanours and felonies is, of course, a key activity for the police.  Information generated through interrogation and other aspects of the proceedings is also needed by other institutions which are responsible for domestic security and for the provision of information to international law enforcement systems.  Integration in this regard involves both giving and receiving, and the Estonian police need and receive information from many national and international databases.
The software architecture of the information systems and technical solutions which are part of this integration are an important aspect in the process.  The integration of police information systems with other information systems is based on the principles of the IT Interoperability Framework, making maximum use of existing infrastructure components.  This means the X-Road data exchange layer.
Another important aspect of integration is the way in which information systems within a single institution are interfaced.  The issue here concerns whether and how personnel records, document management systems and the main police information system should be linked together.


The main police information system is a phrase used in this paper to refer to those information systems which support the primary activities of the police.  The system supports the receipt and registration of messages, management of patrols, processing of criminal offences and misdemeanours, the work of the Criminal Police and Regional Police (constables) and ensuring public order.  The process of integration involves organizational, legal and technical aspects, as well as time-related criteria.
Common use is another important objective when integrating the information systems of various agencies.  The police system, for instance, is used by other agencies such as the Tax and Customs Board, the Border Guard, etc.
One of the many tasks for the police is to ensure public order.  Investigators and those who handle the relevant processes use the information system of proceedings, which is part of the largest main police information system.  Police officers who primarily work on the street can use the E-police system, which was first installed in police vehicles at the beginning of 2005.


The E-police project involved the installation of PCs in police cars.  These consist of touch-screen monitors, keyboards and chip card readers.  They also offer a positioning device (see pictures).  The positioning devices allow police control centres to know where police vehicles are and whether or not they are busy.  The centres can see whether the occupants of a vehicle are dealing with an incident, are on their way to a destination, or are free and can be sent to other locations.  When an incident occurs, the closest available vehicle can be dispatched to deal with it.  Officers can monitor their own location on a map, which helps them to arrive at their intended destination more quickly.  Information about a cars location can also be transmitted from the operational management information system.  The location of police vehicles is determined through the Global Positioning Service (GPS), and GPRS services are used for the relevant data communications.

The control centres which manage the work of police patrol units receive information from several external registers so that they can process incidents and manage emergencies.  These are:
The Estonian Motor Vehicle Registration Centre (ARK), from which the police receive information about cars that are involved in incidents and about their owners and users;
The Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund (LKF), where the police receive information about whether a car has been insured;
The Population Register, which contains information about individuals, contact data and next of kin if an accident has occurred or contact cannot be made with an individual;
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF), which is another way of finding contact data for individuals;
The Real Estate Register, which offers information about real estate owners.  The location of real estate can be found by the name of its owner if it proves difficult  to find the real estate or if it has no proper address.  This information makes it possible for the police to arrive on the scene more quickly;
The Punitive Register, which offers information about an individuals rap sheet;
The Register of Detainees, which is used when a person has gone missing to find out whether that person has been arrested or imprisoned.  The place of imprisonment can then be disclosed to the imprisoned persons kin for visiting purposes;
The Weapons Register, which allows patrol teams to learn whether any weapons are registered at the address where an incident is occurring and whether people involved in the incident have any weapons registered to their name.
Police databases also allow control centres to obtain information as to whether a person is a fugitive or whether a car that is involved in an incident has been stolen.
In addition to being connected to the control centre, the E-police system has another important component the ability to make enquiries from the various national databases to which it is hooked up.  The police can enter data about one person or vehicle and receive a quick response from many different databases.  The number of a vehicle or the name and/or personal ID code of an individual can be entered into the system, allowing the police to check whether a driver who claims to have forgotten his driving licence at home has the right to drive a car, whether the car is stolen, whether the necessary roadworthiness test has been conducted, and whether the car is properly insured.
Responses to all enquiries are presented through an information system via which the E-police software communicates through a special protocol.  There are no physical databases in a patrol car.  This ensures the security of data, as well as conformity with check-up rules at the same time.  The E-police project will equip all patrol cars with the relevant devices by the year 2008.  It will also be possible to ensure on-the-spot compilation of procedural documents (to be transferred immediately upon their approval to the E-file).


The Police Board began to discuss its E-services in the summer of 2004.  Detailed service descriptions were completed at the end of 2005.  Analysis showed that there were four kinds of services:
Open services: Data published in these services must reflect information on the police Website, which is updated in terms of content and structure.  A renewed version of the site must contain the contact data of the Police Board along with information about its objectives, instructions, etc.  In order to broaden the use of the Website, geo-information capabilities are to be used in the publication of information for the public (e.g., how to find the office of ones constable on a map);
Directed services: These will be developed by the Police Board and presented through the citizen portal at  User authentication and use of services will occur in this environment.  The creation of directed services will improve communications between citizens and the police, because the portal will offer more individualised services and information to citizens about things such as filing applications with the police, checking data about ones own misdemeanour, etc;
Inter-agency services will be X-Road services, making it possible to transmit information from one information system to another.  This will benefit citizens, administrative agencies and the police.  The services will accelerate data transmission and make it more convenient, as data exchange between two agencies will be fully electronic;
Administrative services those that are necessary for administration of the E-services portal.  Theyll embody all of the necessary tools user management, service management, etc.
The Web site of the Police Board ( will be renewed in terms of design, content and functionality.  New features will be added so that X-Road services can be used and there is better exchange of information between the Police Board and other administrative agencies.


The E-file system is a procedural information system, and it is used to connect law enforcement information systems and registers, bringing them together into a commonly functioning whole.  E-file encompasses activities related to misdemeanours and felonies, but also to civil and administrative procedures.  The system is being developed by the Justice Ministry in co-operation with other law enforcement authorities.  It is used for information exchange among the police information system, the Register of Criminal Procedures, the court information system, the probation supervision system, the information system of bailiffs, that of prisons, the Punishment Register, and the information systems such related agencies as the Security Police, the Border Guard, the Tax and Customs Board, etc.  Agencies which don't have any special information systems interface with the E-file through an application that has been specifically developed for this purpose.
Integration with the E-file leads to the digital transmission of procedural documents and other related police data via the X-Road and into the E-file.  There, the information can be used by prosecutors and the courts.  The services are not unidirectional (i.e., just transmission of data into the E-file).  They work both ways - prosecutors and the courts can transmit data and documents to the police in a similar way.  This means that the E-file enables electronic communications at the operational level.  Digital processing is the point here.  Approval for procedural decisions can be requested from the Prosecutor's Office, that office can assign tasks to the police, and then the police can submit requests for professional assistance to other relevant administrative agencies.
Whats more, the X-Road services allow users of the police information system to monitor proceedings related to offences that have been handled by prosecutors and the courts.  This can be done through user interfaces in other information systems.  The police can also monitor ongoing and terminated proceedings, as well as the people who have been involved therein.  The central part of the E-file system and the integration of the police information system with it should be completed by the end of 2007.


The Estonian Police Board has contacts with other EU and international information systems such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS), Interpols information system, the Europol system, and EUCARIS the information system which links together motor vehicle registers in the EU.
Integration with the SIS will use a local gateway called the E-SIS.  It will mediate enquiries between the SIS and the agencies which process the relevant data.  Ideally, the E-SIS could eventually involve into a gateway to other international information systems which handle similar types of data (e.g., Interpol).  As an added value, the system will also handle the National Register of Fugitives.  The solution will facilitate and enhance the efficiency of activities related to fugitives at the national level.
Work on joining the SIS began in 2005 as part of the Schengen Facility Programme.


The daily work of the police involves analysis of crime trends, crime scenes, etc., so that top officers can take well-grounded management decisions.  Data needed for analysis often go missing when it comes time to take a decision.  Reports compiled by the police are often less than coherent, and they sometimes reflect a state of affairs, as opposed to a broader trend.  Data in information systems, moreover, are not always readily available for analysis.  Good decisions must be based on analysis that is grounded in integral data.  Because these can be complex processes, all of the data ideally come from a single source a data warehouse.
The data warehouse in this case will integrate all of the important police information systems and standardise data formats therein.  The warehouse will be based on a universal dimensional data model which improves the availability of data, enables cross-queries, parallel surveys and analyses, and facilitates the processing of data.  Thus the data warehouse will ensure that police analysts will have quick access to refined and orderly data in various combinations.  The data warehouse will be online by the end of the year.


A description of the police information systems new architecture was completed in late 2005.  Keywords in the architecture include a service-oriented approach and the distribution of functions among loosely connected subsystems.  Depending on the specifics of individual services or subsystems, different interfaces (RMI, SOAP, an X-Road service) can be chosen.  The focus on services and loose connections makes it easier to add and remove services that are provided by the information systems of other agencies when that becomes necessary.
The service-oriented architecture (SOA) sets up good prerequisites for the provision of services to other systems, because the whole business logic is service-centred.  The police intend to transfer all of their old information systems to the new architecture by the end of 2007.  Other systems will be developed on the SOA principles, as well.
The development of technical solutions for the new system was based on overall developmental trends in terms of IT in Estonia, as well as the positive and negative experience of the police insofar as data exchange with other agencies was concerned.  As the X-Road has become the de facto service bus, the data exchange layer was chosen as the basis for the systems development.  JMS-based message exchange will be used temporarily and on specific occasions until such time as the service provider has developed all of the necessary X-Road services.  In 2007, the police intend to abandon all interfaces which function on technologies other than the X-Road.


Modernisation of the main police information system and the E-police system has been financed with money from the EU Structural Funds Information Society Development programme.  Two projects have been launched Reorganisation of the main information system of the Estonian police and development of E-services for citizens and public agencies (EUR 596,000), and Serving citizens outside the police authorities (on the scene of events) (EUR 1.28 million, toward which the EU contributed EUR 383,500).

Photos: Siim Vaikna

Authors contacts: andrus.voolaine(at), +372 612 3390

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