From my previous 19 years in law enforcement, I’ve spent a lot of time in courtrooms. When I think about all the courtrooms I’ve seen, they’re more or less the same as they were 200 years ago, except for the addition of computers and monitors.
Court systems around the world have traditionally run on paper-based processes – and the vast majority still do – yet that’s beginning to change. Judicial systems in the United Kingdom generated a million pages of documents a day before moving to a Microsoft cloud-based digital justice platform. In addition to significant cost savings in terms of producing, transporting and storing large quantities of paper, the best outcome of going digital is that the data becomes easily accessible, free from paper silos, and available for analysis and interrogation to find relevant judicial hearings and decisions, case law, legal trends and more. (See more details in my blog on e-justice.)
Digital justice—a trend around the globe
I’m pleased to see digital transformation is a growing trend in courts around the globe – and producing results. After just 12 months, the UK’s digital justice platform has reduced the number of paper documents from more than 18 million, which were related to 100,000-plus cases involving 18,500 registered users. In addition to moving from paper to a digital environment, courts also are innovating with other modern technologies:
- Courthouses in Portugal have check-in kiosks enabling all parties associated with a case to use their IDs to alert court administrators of their arrival.
- Technology is also improving the transparency and efficiency of scheduling courtrooms so that witnesses, victims, suspects, lawyers and judges can see when and where they’re needed instead of having to wait for a courtroom to become available.
- Remote hearings, trials and testimony, made possible by our secure Skype for Business, are making the physical location of courthouses less important. This technology is especially useful to:
- Enable a panel of judges to hear cases virtually
- Avoid the expense and danger of transporting violent defendants from jail
- Record a victim’s statement once and then reuse that video for any following hearings so the victim doesn’t have to keep reliving the event.
- The Supreme Court of Buenos Aires upgraded to the Windows 10 operating system for better security, manageability, performance and cost reduction. The court is also processing cases more quickly through a customised media portal built on Microsoft Azure, enabling citizens to access cases that have been registered electronically and view video recordings through an integration with Azure Media Services.
- The State Court of Justice of Sao Paulo has undertaken a digital transformation that serves citizens up to 70% faster – with the initial 2.5 million digitised processes saving 850,000 working hours or nearly 100 years.
Cybersecurity: the foundation of Microsoft court solutions
Court IT systems and legal records need to be protected from cyber-attacks just like court buildings, staff, lawyers, case participants and visitors need physical protection. Microsoft takes cybersecurity very seriously, investing a billion dollars each year to make sure our cloud ecosystem is secure. Our cybersecurity experts in the Digital Crimes Unit and the Cyber Defense Operations Center monitor information to identify real threats, and they also develop tools and techniques to track and catch cybercriminals, and share information with law enforcement agencies from around the world.
Microsoft is enabling digital transformation across government priorities while helping to ensure that organisations such as the courts have the trust, security and compliance they need for sensitive data. We build security into Microsoft products and services from the start. Here are a few examples:
- Microsoft Azure is the global, trusted, hyper-scale cloud, providing the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud provider.
- Office 365, which is widely used by courts for scheduling and communications, provides control over data security and compliance with privacy, transparency and refined user controls built right in. Advanced Security Management also offers enhanced visibility and control.
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps manage and visualise the judicial process work flow – one of the biggest workloads for courts.
- Azure Media Services, which is part of the Buenos Aires solution, delivers content more securely.
It’s exciting to see courts around the world embracing digital transformation to become more efficient, productive and cost-effective while delivering a better experience to citizens. Please learn how Microsoft and our partners are working to streamline and improve court processes by requesting a trial of Microsoft Azure or Azure Government and Office 365, and visiting: