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Open Source, Law Enforcement Software, Justice Software, Software Distribution
Software application projects that are being developed or planned for use in environments that have typically been distributed or marketed to outside organizations may now be posed with new parameters to consider. Not only are project managers and stakeholders confronted with the usual project constraints of scope, cost, time, and quality, but also new application development and distribution models must be given careful consideration. By application development and distribution models, I am referring to decisions to develop, market, or procure, open source or proprietary software code. This decision is not as much dependent on the development methodology as the distribution license used for the finished product. There is no secret that companies that develop proprietary software, whether systems or applications, usually devise strategies to obsolete their products so that the purchase of upgraded versions will be required. Support is often dropped from older version of software to force the purchase in new versions. In addition, vendors often try to lock their customers into their products by forcing huge investments in specialized employees, training, special hardware, unique features, and large initial capital outlays. Also, licenses often do not allow a sufficient timeframe to drop one product and move on to another brand. This paper will present an example of an open source software model for law enforcement and justice systems that will attempt to prevent many of the problems associated with procuring proprietary software. This model will describe how a federal grant can fund the development of a criminal justice suite of software that can be distributed without cost to any law enforcement or justice agency. The first module, a jail management system, has been completed and a business model has been developed for its open deployment.