Sam Georges, CIO-Information Technology Division, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
Like all other businesses in any sector, the justice business faces a lot of technology decisions and challenges on daily basis. Technology advances at the speed of light, while businesses are trying to deploy at the speed of a turtle in most scenarios.
Gartner calls it “Digital Transformation”. And if we need to realize our full potential business wise, we need to continue to transfer our business processes. But haven’t we been digital for a while now? According to some studies, so far, we have not realized 20 percent of our digitization potential. While the U.S is in the lead operating at 18 percent, a lot of European countries are at 12 percent or less.
Most of us if not all, are in the Bimodal IT; still operating using the classic business processes while converting some of those processes to digital.
Nothing different in Law enforcement or the legal business. In most cases Justice has always been able to prevail. If it was done by pen and paper or computer then theoretically it should perform much better in a digital mode. In fact, everything is done on computers now days. So, could that be referred to as digitization? Absolutely not! Doing things electronically means a little faster more accurate work environment.
In the justice system, now more than any other time, we need unification! Charge Codes, conviction codes, updated CJI information etcetera.
Crime is not restricted to county or state lines. We need data warehouses that reliably and securely share that data. Technology serves the good and the bad equally. In most cases the bad guys gain more advantage since they are not bound by any ethical code.
We have been sitting on decades worth of data without making any good use of it. We have Camera’s all over the place, what kind of use are we making of that? Some large cities have moved into what’s called Live Policing. They can track and report live situations, and provide live support and capture the offender in 25 percent or less of the time that it takes in regular methods.
Predictive analytics can most of the time save on resources by assigning the proper ones to incidents and locations rather than aimlessly spread around.
Predictive analytics can most of the time save on resources by assigning the proper ones to incidents and locations rather than aimlessly spread around
Hot spot events can be better surveyed from higher grounds using drones. Face recognition can point out and track and locate an offender via the city’s cameras faster than patrol cars.
Not that long ago, our office, worked with the court and law enforcement agencies to digitize the workflow of warrants dealing with driving under the influence, to a digital process. The old scenario used to take so much time from the point of stopping a suspect, to traveling to the District Attorney’s office, to the court and back to the police station to serve the suspect a warrant to provide blood for testing the Alcohol level. By the time the officer got back, it would have been hours, and the readings would have been inaccurate to the limit that you have no case anymore.
Digitizing the process, using a SaaS model took few minutes before they got back a fully signed and approved warrant from all partners. This way, justice will be properly served in the most efficient way.
This is a very simple example on how digitization can serve the law and provide a better use for the taxpayer’s money!
We are surrounded by digital technologies, from cloud solutions to mobility to AI and Analytics. It is for sure overwhelming. Which one should I adopt and implement?
To succeed in the process, you need to do some basic planning:
• Understand your business goals and align them properly with your IT ones
• preach your strategy to your staff so they are on the same page with you
• Switch to agile project cycles
• Include staff representatives when you design the solution.
• If the solution affects other agencies, include them in the planning and design phase to get their input
• Test and fail fast so you can move on to test the next solution
• Test the security of the solution you are going to implement and make sure that it is compliant with DOJ CJIS
• Have a group of users who will spear head your pilot test
• Avoid a big bang implementation. Rather, do a unit by unit and make good use of lessons learned.
• Make sure to have sufficient documentation, how to videos, and a training plan prior to any implementation
• Use lessons learned for the next deployment
• Reach out to counter parts within your county or state to get experience advise from them if they have approached such a project before. I would rather deploy a successful solution for the office rather than be called an innovator
• Follow through on your deployment and make sure all problems and questions have been taken car off
• Properly document the solution with steps taken
• Apply any updates or patches once full deployed and keep on monitoring the solution
Vendors in general will try to provide with out of the box solutions. Just remember that there is no ‘One size fits all’ solution! There will always be customization done to fit the specific needs of your office and how you do business.
Start planning for the digital era or you and your office will be left behind with legacy systems that have no support!
Information Technology is the core to optimum performance in an organization. You can choose to move at the speed of sound or row your way into the future.