May 27, 2020
Requests for court data are on the rise. These requests come from the media, policymakers, researchers, law firms, parties to a case, and data aggregation companies. Despite the ability to more easily fulfill these data requests through electronic records, courts still share concern over data consistency, data quality, and the potential for misinterpretation of court data once released.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), with support from the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) and the Joint Technology Committee (JTC) recently completed the National Open Court Data Standards (NODS) project (www.ncsc.org/nods). These national standards will help courts address policy or evaluation needs and guide data collection used for improving their business processes with their court systems. NODS developed business and technical court data standards to support the creation, sharing, and integration of court data.
NODS was created with the understanding that data are complex, and definitions and rules vary widely across and within state courts. Within the context of this variation, data standards facilitate the sharing of data, increase transparency, provide for consistency in data interpretation, allow for meaningful comparisons across data sets, and reduce the cost of producing or extracting individual data sets.
NODS addresses court concerns over data consistency, data quality, and the potential for misinterpretation of court data once released by developing both logical standards (common data definitions) and technical standards (data relationship models) for court data. Adopting standard data definitions will decrease the risk of misinterpretation of data by individuals and entities outside of the court. Courts will be able to produce valuable performance-based data to assess and enhance productivity and perform evaluations of programs and services.
More information on the national data standards:
- Leadership Guide - Provides an overview of the NODS project and its purposes with guidance on why courts may choose to implement the data standards.
- Users Guide - Offers a discussion of the data elements listed in the spreadsheet, their use, and mapping guidance
- Data Elements Spreadsheet - Contains a description of all data elements with definitions and value lists.
- Technical Notes - Explains the NODS logical data models and contents of the technical artifacts.
- Technical Data Models - Illustrates the relationships between entities and the logical groups of attributes.