Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Court Repurposes Old iPhones for Inventory Control

We heard from our good friend Ms. Winnie Webber of the Lake County, Illinois courts about their innovative use of obsolete iPhones.


By Ms. Winnie Webber, (Director of Judicial Information Services, 19th Judicial Circuit, Illinois)

Last year, a handful of iPhone 4s were upgraded to iPhone 5 devices. Typically, all old phones get recycled; we thought of keeping this particular model and decided to look for innovative ideas to repurpose the use of it.

Judicial Assistants in our court are required to inventory all assisted listening devices (ALD) from all courtrooms, all floors; once a week to include jury room checks.

Here’s the current process:
  • Judicial Assistants take a piece of paper and pen and go to the different sections of the courthouse
  • Check the ALD Microphones, headsets to make sure they are working and note these down
  • Check the Jury Rooms to make sure they are clean and note these down
  • Come back to their desks and type up a report 
  • Send the report via email to Supervisors

Issues with the current process:

  • Cumbersome for JAs
  • Different format of reports from different JAs going to Supervisors
  • If management wants to check something in the reports, they have to scan through several emails
  • Possible wastage of paper

Our solution - repurpose old iPhone devices for inventory control:

  • A fillable form that is installed on a re-purposed iPhone (without a data plan);developed using FileMaker-Go
  • Created barcode labels to all devices (i.e. ALD, microphones, headsets and jury room checks)
  • Barcoded inventory so that the device being checked can be scanned using software in the iPhone; use pic2shop barcode reader
  • Ability to save the data/form on the iPhone 
  • A Submit button on the fillable form that submits the data entered to a central database when the iPhone is connected to the Courts Wireless network; use existing Wi-Fi to connect to database.

The following diagram shows how the system works (click on the image to enlarge):

Apps use:

Benefits to the Courts:

  • Ease of use for JAs
  • Standardization of reports
  • Now that the data is in a database, any kind of report can be generated depending on what management is looking for
  • Repurpose old Apple iPhones and iMac
  • Promote paperless environment
  • Expansion of process to other inventory control items

This project shows that what may be seen as obsolete hardware can be repurposed to benefit the courts.

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