Tyler Technologies Helps Fulton County Use Data Analytics on AWS to Give People Access to the Services They Need

Executive Summary

Fulton County, Georgia, engaged Tyler Technologies to implement a data sharing platform that integrates data from separate data sources at criminal justice agencies, courts, and behavioral health systems, helping the county reduce recidivism and homelessness, get people access to mental health services, and lower the incarceration rate. Fulton County is Georgia’s largest county, with over one million residents. The Tyler Technologies solution runs on AWS, using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams to ingest streaming data from different agency systems.

Striving to Integrate Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Information

About two million times a year, people with serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI also reports that the cost of jailing people with mental illness is high, and these inmates often have longer jail stays and higher recidivism rates.

Fulton County, Georgia, a county of more than one million residents, wanted to face this problem head on. Like many other communities across the country, Fulton County realized its criminal justice system was a fallback for managing mental illness in the community. “Our goal has always been reducing the population of people going to jail that do not need to be there and redirecting them to mental health services and resources,” says Mike Rowicki, director of strategic planning and performance management for Fulton County.

To address the issue, the county chose to participate in the nationwide Stepping Up initiative, which seeks to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. However, to become a Stepping Up community, Fulton County needed to bring together disparate data from criminal justice agencies, courts, and behavioral health systems. “Everyone was working with different systems, with different data collection and reporting methods. There was no consistency and no sharing of data in a centralized way,” Rowicki says. “We needed to integrate the data so we could analyze it and make better decisions about our use of criminal justice resources.”

"There are massive amounts of data in the county, and we need to access it from all over. Using Tyler Technologies on AWS, we can quickly accommodate 50 or more additional groups or agencies that want to join."

- Mike Rowicki, Director of Strategic Planning and Performance Management, Fulton County, Georgia, USA

Connecting and Sharing County Data through Tyler Technologies

Fulton County decided to implement a data sharing platform based on the Tyler Technologies Enterprise Data Platform, which the county had already been using. Tyler Technologies, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner, runs the solution on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and uses Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, a serverless streaming service, to store and ingest streaming data from different county agencies and departments. The solution also relies on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store and manage organizational data.

The Tyler Technologies data platform connects and shares data across the disparate systems. The data includes pre-arrest, housing, court collaboration, homelessness, medical treatment, and re-entry information. County judges, nonprofit agency administrators and department leaders, and organizations that provide housing and other services for homeless people use the solution, which easily collects and stores data from their existing systems.

The Tyler Technologies platform also provides controls for maintaining security and complying with HIPAA regulations, which is critical because of the privacy concerns around the data. Each agency using the solution can access a custom dashboard that masks data on a permissions basis. Users can query datasets that contain information on past behavioral health-related engagements, offering insights into the most recent touchpoint a client had with a behavioral health professional.

Reducing Recidivism and Finding Solutions to Homelessness

Using the Tyler Technologies solution, Fulton County has a centralized location for connecting and sharing data across agencies. The solution analyzes each aspect of a person’s care, including the data consolidated from systems across the county. Equipped with this data, law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, jail staff, and other government organizations can gain deeper insights into patients.

For example, Fulton County administrators looked carefully at the 100 people arrested most frequently in the county and discovered many of them had persistent mental health issues in the past and have been seen by multiple healthcare providers. “We’re trying to focus on getting these people connected with a single provider to stabilize them,” says Rowicki. “Once that happens, if the person goes back into the community and something happens again, we can get them back to the last provider they worked with and keep working on their treatment plan. We hope this will reduce the recidivism rate for some of these individuals.” 

The county also hopes to reduce homelessness by using the Tyler Technologies solution to analyze data from three homeless shelters across the county. “We can find out if it’s mental illness, unstable housing, or some other reason for a person being homeless, and then identify the resources we have to help,” says Rowicki.

Finding Alternatives to Incarceration

Fulton County judges using the Tyler Technologies solution now have more information about why people are being detained, which can help divert people to mental health treatment centers instead of incarcerating them. Similarly, police officers can use the data to decide whether to transport someone to jail or connect them with a behavioral healthcare provider instead. Healthcare providers can also use the data to simplify the intake process and make it more efficient. “Using the data we have in the Tyler Technologies solution, we’re finding that many people who are in a cycle of going to jail repeatedly are homeless, have mental illness, and/or have substance abuse issues,” says Rowicki. “The data insights we have help us find alternatives for people so they’re getting the treatment they need instead of cycling through the criminal justice system.”

Fulton County is also using its data insights to support its upcoming justice diversion centers. One of the centers is a repurposed former jail that will become a social services center and provide temporary housing for homeless people. The other center will offer crisis intervention services and temporary housing. “These will be places police officers can drop people off instead of taking them directly to jail,” Rowicki says.

Scaling to Support Additional Systems

Because the Tyler Technologies solution runs on AWS, Fulton County knows it can quickly scale to add more data systems and datasets in the future, without having to purchase and manage hardware in a data center. “There are massive amounts of data in the county, and we need to access it from all over,” says Rowicki. “Using Tyler Technologies on AWS, we can quickly accommodate 50 or more additional groups or agencies that want to join.” 

In addition, Fulton County can integrate personal health information for patients in the future if necessary. “Fulton County has set itself up for a future solution expansion, so if the time comes when it needs to bring personal information into the platform, it should be simple to support that,” says Justin Bruce, director of client success for Tyler Technologies.

Eventually, Fulton County anticipates significant cost savings as a result of reducing the incarceration rate. “If we can scale this solution to where we want it to be, we think we can save the county millions of dollars,” Rowicki concludes. “While we’re working toward that goal, we will continue to work with our vulnerable population to make sure they have access to the services they need so they can be productive citizens in our community.”

Fulton County

About Fulton County

Fulton County is a county in north-central Georgia, with a population of more than one million residents. The state’s most populous county, it includes the capital city of Atlanta. Fulton County provides a range of services to residents, including business services, court services, employment opportunities, public health, licensing and certification, and public safety services.

About Tyler Technologies

Tyler Technologies, based in Plano, Texas, provides integrated software and technology services to the public sector. The company’s solutions empower local, state, and federal government organizations to operate more efficiently and connect more transparently with their constituents and each other.

Published August 2022