Over the course of the past few weeks, the Nebraska State Patrol has rolled out new software for its public Sex Offender Registry website. Without much fanfare, the registry has been significantly updated. Here are a few examples of the new functionality.
1. Search by name
You can now search by first name, last name, or both. You could, for example, search for registered sex offenders whose first name is Edward. The name search automatically uses wildcards, so if you searched for a last name of "Rob", the results would return Roberts, Robertson, Robbins, and even Frobish. The more letters you add, the more specific the results. There must be some soundex algorithim at work as well, since the "Rob" search also returns Rabinowitz.
2. Larger thumbnails
The images returned from a search are significantly larger, a nice improvement. Click on the image to open the offender's information page, with the full size image.
Search results produce a map, using the Google Maps API. It may not be 100% accurate, but it's pretty close, and definitely a nice upgrade. Click the icon for the basic information in a pop-up label, and click the label to hyperlink to the details. Or, if you prefer, just scroll down to the results displayed below the map. You can zoom, pan, turn the aerial images on and off, and even use Pegman for StreetView within the Google Maps pane.
4. Buffer search
Click the "Search by Location" button, and you can input an address and select a buffer of 1, 2, or 3 miles. Previously, you could search only within boundaries, such as zip codes, cities, or counties. The ability to select a buffer distance is an improvement. I would prefer a choice for one smaller unit (such as a half mile) but it is still a good feature.
Click the link "Notify Me" and you will have subscribed to that offender. You will receive an email with the information anytime this offender's information has been updated. This is a useful feature, similar to some of the internal subscriptions we offer in the LPD records management system, or to the inmate notification feature available to the public in the excellent VINELink application.
There are a number of other little details, but overall, the new look of the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry is sleek, and the functionality a major improvement over its predecessor. Well done!