Walking into a court in your home town or capital city is usually a daunting experience. Not only are you faced with the stresses of being involved in a matter, but you have the added unfamiliarity of dealing with a large bureaucratic institution. We noticed this first-hand a few years ago, so we decided to try to fix it.
With the advances made in consumer internet over the past two decade, the public now has heightened expectations around the services they receive from Government. Courts are no different.
When you appear on your day of court, often you have no idea when your case is going to be seen by a judge and what you might need to do before that. You may have to wait the whole day, your matter might not even be heard on that day.
So it makes it difficult to deal pragmatic issues like parking and childcare. If the matter is a criminal one, then there’s a good chance that you might be sitting next to your offender for a large portion of the day. There’s no way of planning for when you are required.
It’s not just the public who have a poor user experience within the court system. Court staff and administrators rely upon a series of analogue processes and procedures to record information, communicate with the public and organise staff.
So we set to work imagining the court of the future.
We partnered with a local magistrates court in Collingwood, the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, and raised funds from the Victorian Public Sector Innovation fund to commence a discovery process,a service design and a beta version that could be tested in a real court setting.
At Portable we approach problems from a human centred design perspective, which means getting to know and understand the behaviours of end users is central to our work. So we started by conducting ethnographic research, shadowing court staff and court users, to fully understand the real opportunities that might exist when it comes to interfacing with a court.
We also did a complete business analysis of the court’s front of house and back of house processes so we could start to discover bottlenecks, redundant processes and duplication. So before we even entered into design, we had a complete understanding of the entire court system and the infrastructure that sat underneath it.
Navigating the politics of an institution can be more important than the hard work of design and implementation. Our team worked with the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Court Services Victoria and the Victorian State Government to pave the way for a re-design and technical implementation of a new product. Hacking the tech is inevitable, but hacking the bureaucracy is essential.
The design process involved producing a series of prototypes that we tested manually with our user cohort we had identified in discovery. Through this process we iterated multiple times as some of the assumptions we made were proven wrong when put into action. For example, we initially had the hypothesis that organising court users through time sequencing would best reflect user expectations, however this was not the case.
Through several iterations, we settled on an “activity” based system that allows users to check into court then work through a series of activities assigned to them by a registrar or administrator. We also prototyped the establishment of screens around the court, like arrival and departure boards at airports, to allow live updates for people across the building.
One of the main hurdles of the new product was integrating with 30 year old court infrastructure to draw down cases taking place across the State. We did extensive infrastructure planning and expectation management within Courts IT to ensure that we could make the required integrations within the right security settings and timeframes.
The result of this work is a new product called YourCase. It’s currently in beta within a live court setting and has the following features:
From the moment a citizen walks into a court, YourCase allows them to easily check-in and track the activities the court needs them to do before their matter is heard. It puts the court experience back into the hands of the people they are designed to serve.
When a member of the public arrives on their day of court, they immediately check into YourCase and are tracked digitally through the entire day and beyond. YourCase allows registrars and other administrators to schedule tasks, communicate with other services and publicly display activities around the premises.
YourCase allows court staff to easily update, order and show members of the public where they are in the hearing list throughout the day in real time. This can be done using desktops, tablet devices or mobile phones. As part of the engagement, we will help you install a public display too.
Once YourCase has been implemented at a court or tribal, administrators can start to track critical data around court performance. YourCase’s powerful reporting tools can help you to immediately pin point resources for specific days or recognise trends that can transform the court experience for all users.
Although YourCase is in its infancy, it is already changing the way in which people interact and think about their court experience. Our vision is to completely re-imagine court interactions: from the day of filing, to the day of hearing and beyond. We now spreading across multiple court types and jurisdictions too.
Are you looking to transform a court or tribunal your involved in?
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