The future of integrated justice

?As the global population grows, so too does the responsibility of public safety and justice agencies that protect citizens from all walks of life. In addition to managing emergency events, gathering intelligence, investigating crimes, and detecting threats, these agencies must also coordinate a complex system of courts, prisons, law enforcement offices and other related organizations that need to access and share critical information throughout the justice process.

This month at On Safety and Defense we’re discussing the rise in integrated justice information systems and how they can improve productivity and collaboration for public safety organizations. I’d like to start the conversation here by exploring a few of the ways we see integrated justice technologies able to streamline the justice process, reduce costs and ultimately support safer communities.

1. Virtual Courts
The idea of a virtual courtroom has been discussed before, and admittedly there are still a lot of details to work out before the system is perfected. But, considering the volume of cases that courts are currently processing (in the U.S. alone, there were 10.5 million misdemeanor court cases in 2006), a virtual courtroom could create huge efficiencies. For example, if used appropriately, existing technologies like Lync could save time and money by connecting parties via video chat, eliminating the costs required to transport defendants and witnesses to and from court for administrative hearings. It’s a fascinating idea!

2. Improved Case Management
In a document-intensive environment like the criminal justice system, court and offender management systems can harness on-premises and cloud-based technology to significantly improve efficiency and effectiveness. These collaboration tools help officials manage and simplify complex, time-consuming case preparation and processing to improve information gathering and capture, analysis, sharing, decision-making, and communication. With virtualized case management, officials can share information between jurisdictions, agencies or police departments from any location or device, and still have enhanced security to prevent unauthorized use of confidential information. They can also automate manual paper-based processes and integrate enhancement with legacy systems, eliminating hours of labor for staff members and enabling much faster processing times.

3. Integrated Security Operations
Many corrections facility administrators have sought ways to integrate physical security with IT to provide a more robust security operation across their campuses. One current example of such a system is Microsoft’s Global Security Operations Centers (GSOCs), which monitor, communicate and coordinate responses for more than 700 locations worldwide as well as tens of thousands of active personnel accounts, access card readers, video cameras and more. GSOCs leverage commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products with third party solutions to improve operational efficiencies. As site security becomes increasingly integrated, we could begin to see this same type of partnership, where physical security and IT complement rather than compete with each other — take place within corrections facilities for a more streamlined and cost-effective security solution that can be managed from virtually anywhere in the world.

Technology has become an indispensable tool for managing the complex and dynamic environment of judicial organizations. To truly support integrated justice, technology must securely connect criminal justice officials with the information and systems they need to streamline processes and procedures across agencies and it must constantly adapt to accommodate the ever-changing needs of citizens and governments. The faster and more effectively our technology works, the safer our families, streets and communities will be.

For more information, read about the latest white paper, or visit the Integrated Justice web page.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Hawkins | Managing Director, Public Safety and Justice, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation

Dr. Andrew Hawkins, Director, Public Safety & Justice Solutions, Worldwide Public Sector, has more than two and a half decades’ public sector expertise. He holds a PhD in Management Science from Lancaster University Management School. Read More