Web Services

Access Miami

Von Lafe Low
Beispiele für funktionierende Web Services mehren sich langsam. Die Behörden im US-Bundesstaat Florida gehören zu den ersten Anwendern, die mit der jungen Technik ihre IT integrieren.

Quelle: CIO, USA

BAD GUYS HAD better think twice before driving through Miami-Dade County. Police officers there will soon have a powerful weapon in their arsenal with which to identify fugitives. A Web services initiative will provide Miami-Dade officers immediate access to the county's criminal database as well as to those administered by the state and the FBI.

Officers will be able to run a query from laptop computers installed in their patrol cars to determine whether someone they have pulled over is a mere traffic violator or a more serious offender. This venture into Web services comes as an answer to Miami-Dade's integration challenges and its goals of expanding e-government services, enhancing county processes with technology, improving management of IT resources, and simplifying and standardizing the IT environment.

"Until we had mechanisms like Web services, almost everything was done in a point-to-point fashion," says Assistant Director of E-Technologies Ira Feuer, "which is very expensive when you're talking about integration." Expensive and inefficient, as the county's developers would have to create custom applications to facilitate queries by specific departments. The inefficient processes and lack of standardization engendered by siloed data were the impetus for the county's IT mandate to standardize and streamline its technology and processes.

Wanted: Integrated Systems

For three months, Miami-Dade County CIO Judi Zito and Feuer, together with their IT colleagues, searched for a strategy to integrate the county's myriad mainframe systems and to improve access to the data and processes that had been encoded into those mainframes over the years. The county had spent far too much effort and expense on its mainframe platform and wanted to maximize its already significant investment. In addition, the stability and capacity of the mainframe made it an invaluable part of the county's technology infrastructure. "Believe it or not, the mainframe is the most reliable part of our architecture," says Feuer, who is leading Miami-Dade's Web services transformation. "We can predict response times pretty well, and [the mainframe] can handle the additional workload."

Tracking the Bad Boys

In March 2003, Zito and Feuer hit on Web services as a potential answer to both the county's immediate and future needs. Feuer and his staff had been considering approaches to integration, including various middleware components. They were also evaluating a technology strategy for improving county law enforcement's access to a criminal records database on the mainframe. "We definitely had a problem in our police mobile project accessing the mainframe," Feuer says. The county's criminal justice database was an old system that didn't permit relational queries, like those needed to access multiple systems to cross-reference county, state and federal databases.

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