If you’ve been reading our articles lately, you’ve probably noticed we use the phrases “close to the data” and “closer to the data” quite a bit. It has almost become our mantra, “close to the data,” repeated over and over again by engineering, marketing, sales and even management, but most importantly by our customers.
Why are we so obsessed with “the data” and your proximity to it?
Simply put, because connecting background screening companies like yours directly to the original sources of criminal records, court records and other background screening information such as employment verifications and medical compliance data is our mission. We call this special relationship with data, direct-source data. And, we believe, this is what sets us apart as a service provider to the employment background screening industry.
What is ‘The Data’?
In the context of a criminal record or court record, the data from the court’s index is the official and definitive source of information. In tenancy, employment, or credentialing background checks, this is the information used by your end-user customers to make a hire, determine eligibility for a license, lease a property or support a promotion.
It’s important to recognize that there is no single source — or even just a few sources — of public record information. There are literally thousands. And each court in the United States (city, county, state and federal) oversees access to the data it maintains.
What does it mean to get ‘Close’ to the data?
When we talk about getting your background screening company (and, by extension, your end-users) close to the data, we mean eliminating any unnecessary layers between you and the courts that house public record data such as criminal and civil court records.
It’s a fact of doing business that the more people involved in any process, the longer it will take, and the more chances for error there will be. The same logic applies to your criminal background checks. This string of people and processes between you and the data you need is your data supply chain.
Very often, third-party providers of court records and criminal data will engage other outside contractors to actually perform the research, especially when the research requires visiting courts in person.
When a record is found, the data may pass through several hands before it reaches your end-user. Each step along the way is an opportunity for a mistake — enter an incorrect charge level, disposition or “matching” date of birth, for example. This type of information is NOT direct-source data.
Extra layers also mean less transparency and communication. This makes supply chains long, and fragile. Neither is a quality you want in your data supply chain.
Third-parties typically serve multiple clients, and there’s no guarantee they will prioritize your queries or respond directly to your questions. If a third-party gets bogged down with someone else’s work, you may simply have to wait your turn. This increases turnaround time and makes your data supply chain unpredictable. Both bad. Because of our scope and ability to scale, we don’t need to make those difficult decisions.
The benefit of getting close to the data means breaking through all of that and putting you, the consumer reporting agency, in control. When you have this type of relationship with the data you need, we refer to this as direct-source data. Our direct-source data will help your CRA succeed in a hypercompetitive market by satisfying your end-users in the five performance areas they value the most: accuracy, turnaround time, customization, transparency, and cost-effectiveness.
How InformData gets background screening companies closer to information with direct-source data
At InformData, we don’t think a third-party with conflicting priorities should define your relationships with your end-users. We aim to give you complete control of the data, and we can do that because we have absolute control of our data.
For the past two decades, we’ve worked to break down the barriers that separate our CRA customers from the direct sources of people data. No other data provider can offer the level of flexibility, customization, and transparency our data supply chains provide using our direct-source data.
As we wrote above, every court in the U.S. controls access to its own records. We designed (and are continually improving) our three-tiered research system to get the information from these sources directly into your hands in as few steps as possible while accounting for the different technological capabilities and processes presented by each data source. In doing so we create a data supply chain that is efficient, predictable, and reliable.
Level 1: Automation
InformData’s automated criminal record and court record research software provides you direct-source data and gets you closer to the data than any other research method.
Our software engineers have pioneered a system that “scrapes” court index data for information, replacing human researchers with intelligent, automated bots. Software automation eliminates middlemen — and therefore, delays and human error — from your criminal background screening equation, one of the key qualities of direct-source data.
Not every court website is up to our standards for automation. And not every court even has such a website. Nevertheless, our direct-source automated court research solution covers over 1,800 county-level jurisdictions through real-time court data extraction and screen scraping.
Currently, we perform criminal record searches in over 60% of counties in the United States through automation — and we expect automation to continue to cover a greater percentage of the information you need in the coming years.
Level 2: Our proprietary research network
In order to handle the vast majority of cases in which courts lack the proper websites for automation, we maintain a network of full-time, trained court researchers who work only for InformData.
Every member of our proprietary research network is a graduate of our rigorous researcher certification program, which includes classroom and on-the-job training. Each researcher works within our in-house search management and reporting tools (SMART and FUSE), which use Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) and powerful error-proofing mechanisms to ensure the data’s integrity and quality.
When our proprietary network is on the job, no third-party or middleman will ever touch the data. Every link in the chain of transmission must meet our sky-high standards for quality, accuracy, and efficiency. That’s a data supply chain you can trust.
Level 3: Our certified third-party vendor partners
Between our automated solution and our proprietary research network, InformData’s internal research processes cover over 90% of county-level court data in the United States. The remaining 10% is located mainly in remote or less densely populated areas where it would be inefficient to assign a team of our own full-time researchers.
To make sure that no stone goes unturned for your end-users, we cover these hard-to-reach areas by partnering with reliable, highly qualified, fully vetted third-party researchers.
These researchers are the best in the business. Each of our third-party partners have completed our vendor certification program and meet the same high standards we set for our internal team members. We demand responsiveness, accuracy, and professionalism.
Whenever possible, we choose to partner with local courthouse researchers who understand their jurisdiction's nuances and who don’t answer to administrators in far-away cities. When there are issues, delays, or special requests to discuss, we prefer to communicate with our partners directly rather than wade through layers of go-betweens.
Learn more about InformData’s industry-leading data supply chain and direct-source data
This article has provided a high-level overview of the best-in-class three-tiered research network we use at InformData to get you and your end-users closer to the original sources of criminal records and court records data than any other provider. That’s direct-source data.
Our latest online guide offers a more detailed explanation, along with an assessment of the current market for criminal background screening and tips on positioning your CRA for growth and profit in 2022 and beyond.