How Courtroom Technology Must Be Like Air Traffic Control Systems

We sat down with an IT specialist who has worked in both federal and state courts to talk about the challenges of court technology who, among other things, is familiar with RevoText installations.

What are the biggest challenges facing courts when they adopt new technologies?

There are two main challenges. The first challenge is that you have to be 100 percent reliable. You can’t be 99 percent reliable or even 99.9 percent reliable. It has to be like an air traffic control system, which simply cannot fail.

The other challenge is that you don’t have highly trained, technical people in the courtroom. You have judges and clerks who are highly trained in their own fields, but they’re not, by definition, highly technical people. Why would they be? They’re not supposed to have that type of expertise. So, any system must be easy and understandable for the end user and viable for a non-technical user. On top of that, it needs to be affordable. That’s not an easy combination of requirements to meet. In that way, courtrooms will always be a challenge from a technology standpoint because you need a superior solution that will never fail, but that also won’t be a struggle for a non-technical person to interface with.

What’s the biggest reason a court should consider RevoText?

Today they are a valuable alternative to employee court reporters. One way or another, we have to pay someone to capture the record and we must have enough resources at our disposal for that purpose. When you hire RevoText, you transfer that responsibility to a highly capable consultant.

Another reason is that you’re not taking a risk with RevoText. It just works and it’s versatile. If you want court reporters, you have them. If you want to use digital audio or video, you can have that as well. You have all those options with one solution. You don’t need multiple vendors. And if you want to think down the road to AI, RevoText will be able to support that.

Plus, it’s scalable. It can be in one courtroom, two courtrooms, or many more than that. You have full scalability.

Court administrators put their names on the line with a new technology. Why shouldn’t they worry with RevoText?

Because RevoText is not an IT company; it’s a court-reporting administrator. It’s run by court administrators and court reporters, people who come from inside the business. These people understand the risks and requirements of working in a court environment. They know what it’s like to answer to judges, and what those risks entail. IT is a function that supports RevoText, but court administrators should take comfort that RevoText is not an IT company.

If that’s the case, why not worry about the technology if RevoText isn’t an IT company?

The RevoText CTO, Gregg Poss, worked for decades in an IT role for one of the largest court systems in the country. So they have plenty of IT expertise within, but they also just know how technology is consumed in courtrooms. They understand jury evidence, case management, and judicial applications. They’re IT people, but they’re not just IT people. They’re people who’ve been on the IT side of the equation in the courts.

RevoText often says that it will identify and fix problems before the courts even know there is a problem. How is that possible?

The answer is that redundancy is not an afterthought with RevoText; redundancy is incorporated from the ground up. That’s because everything must have redundancy. It has to be 100 percent reliable. Redundancy is built into the system. Think of air traffic control systems again. How do you rely on air traffic controllers to direct air traffic? The entire premise of flying on an airplane is based on the comfort that there can be no mistakes, ever. We build everything in pairs. Two Internet connections, two servers…we need a system that’s not just “good enough,” but a system that will not fail, ever, just like an air traffic control system.

What would you say to the IT person who is a skeptic that RevoText could be this good?

I would tell them I am in this same position as them and have sat in their chairs. RevoText understands how difficult their jobs are. They collaborate and cooperate but don’t try to take over. They’re in the business of making our lives better and easier.

It’s not too good to be true. Back to the air traffic control example. Is that too good to be true? It’s an old industry that has a system designed for an expressed purpose. Is it too much to believe that something can be perfect? The technology is mature enough for this to work. It’s like Netflix or Facebook or your Internet at home. You just know that when you turn it on, it will work. When you scan a credit card to buy gas at the gas station, you just know that it will work.

Some people might mistakenly think that the technology isn’t mature enough, but it is. Court administrators need to trust that their courtrooms are ready to accept the technology. And RevoText can make it work because they know the courtroom so well. Administrators don’t have to believe RevoText that it will work; they need to believe that their courtrooms are ready for it, which they no doubt are.