Thursday, August 3, 2006

How Smart Can We Make the Documents?

I have written about this before, but lately, after working with several case management systems I have become more and more convinced that court technologists are still missing the point that the data is in the document. Almost everything that a court does either involves receiving a document or producing a document. The smarter that we make documents, by "tagging" the information via templates and forms, the less data entry is needed because either the document becomes the database or the data is automatically parsed and entered into the court's database.

On the input side, courts have done an excellent job of posting their forms in editable formats and PDF. But very few have "connected the dots" by using these forms as data sources in their E-filing projects. I find that it is particularly interesting that progress in this area is being made in the integrated justice projects with GJXDM technology rather than in civil case E-filing. For example, at CTC8, Orange County, Florida Integrated Justice System project showed their automated criminal complaint systems and at the upcoming E-Courts Conference this December, the Maricopa County, Arizona Integrated Justice System will be showing their electronic warrant system.

Further, most court automation seem to still treat court generated documents as reports or as separate standalone systems. When a court creates a document using word processing software, it should not simply be printed on paper. It should also be stored electronically and linked to the case management system. There are many ways that this can be done and I'll write about a few of them next week.