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Managing courtroom video

By Sergio Ortega Cruz, Worldwide Industry Solution Manager for Public Safety, National Security & Defense, Microsoft on January 29, 2016

Filed under Microsoft in Government

Justice_New-web_600x300In many places around the world, legal systems are turning to video footage to record trials and other court proceedings for record-keeping purposes. Moreover, many judges are allowing witnesses to testify via teleconference to create a more inclusive justice system.

Take Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, for example. The court recently allowed a man bedridden from a stroke to testify via Skype. The man was seeking the extension of a protection order against his estranged wife, but felt too weak to get out of bed.

Likewise, the Ontario Superior Court recently allowed a witness from Denmark to testify via Skype in a child custody case. “Skype is now in HD and has an internal automatic checking system,” explains Family Lawyer Phil, who persuaded the judge to allow the testimony. “You can see people in the courtroom and they can see you. This is clearly the way of the future.”

As video conferencing in the courtroom becomes mainstream, it is improving courtroom efficiency in a variety of ways. It’s expediting the issuance of search warrants. It’s speeding up arraignments, pre-trial conferences, and other court hearings. It’s allowing foreign and out-of-state witnesses to testify while avoiding the cost of travel. And it’s reducing the cost of transporting prisoners to the courtroom.

Yet as courtrooms increasingly turn to video technology to improve their proceedings, managing this new way of doing things can quickly turn into an administrative burden. Video-conferencing technology can be unreliable. Video storage can be expensive. And accessing the exact content needed can involve hundreds of hours sifting through vast amounts of video footage.

The good news is that Microsoft provides the advanced technology needed to help judicial systems overcome all these hurdles. Consider the following:

  • Capturing video: Increasingly, legal systems are turning to Skype for Business for reliable, high-quality video conferencing. Skype for Business protects conversations through strong authentication and encryption features. It offers built-in compliance for strict security requirements such as the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standard in some U.S. versions. And it can be used even in situations in which the person appearing remotely is not on Skype for Business. All that person needs is a phone or Internet connection.
  • Storing video: Microsoft Azure Storage offers the durability and scalability to store large amounts of video footage at low cost. Data stored within Azure Storage is automatically replicated to guard against hardware failure. And in situations where justice systems prefer to keep their video files on-premises, Azure Storage can be used as a backup to ensure a judicial system’s video footage is always available.
  • Managing video: Microsoft Azure Media Services enables legal professionals to access the exact video content they need through Azure Media Indexer, a feature that uses state-of-the-art machine learning to convert spoken language in video files into a searchable text format. Thanks to this feature, legal professionals can conduct keyword searches for specific comments that were made during the conversation and obtain the exact time those words were spoken, making it easy to find those moments in the video.

As judicial systems incorporate video technology into their courtrooms, Microsoft is leading the way, helping them to reliably capture, store, and manage all this data. To learn more on how Microsoft can improve efficiency and collaboration, request one of our available trials: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.

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