Time and again court technology planners face concerns regarding electronic communications for reminders and noticing. These concerns can be warranted as “email spoofing” is a real phenomenon.
However with 85% of Americans online using the Internet or E-mail, courts should be working toward a solution to facilitate electronic communications instead of summarily dismissing the idea.
The first concept that let’s courts “dip their toe” into the electronic communications pool is to allow the user to “opt-in” for messages just as one does when signing up for an online catalog.
The second concept is to allow the court information user to choose their method of electronic communications whether it is E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, or SMS/Text Messaging.
The third concept is that electronic communications will be unofficial. Meaning that the messaging will be used for reminders or alerts that an official communication is coming. Of course for those advanced courts, links to the password protected official notification or documents can be provided.
Now to protect the court information users I think that the concept of a registered e-communication address could be provided by the courts. As usual an application form would be submitted along with a copy of a person’s government issued ID card. Courts may also want the person to appear at the court or have the document notarized for visual verification. Courts in turn could use one of the following types of services that will verify whether an e-mail address exists or not.
Last, a verification e-message would be sent to the user to make sure that they agree to “opt-in” to the messaging system.
Once verified, the courts could in turn make the registered e-communications address available to justice and legal system. And in our Court Case Management Systems (CCMS) we would note that the E-communication method was approved and verified.
While this may seem like it would be a lot of work for overburdened court staff, almost all of it can be automated. And the real payoff is in creating a trust system and increasing the percentage of persons meeting their court and payment obligations. One project I know, simply sending a text message, has increased compliance with court obligations by over 20%.
Adventurous courts could even allow a verified user to appear at court by video call (Skype, Facetime, etc.) because the purpose is to see the person and their government issued ID card picture together.
And last, I could even see that the “verification” selfie is a possibility with a person holding their ID card next to their face and snapping a picture to send in. Perhaps this is another use for the ideas discussed in last week's CTB article?