Digital technology in court reform

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    Monday03Sep 2018
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    Guest blog: Balaji AnbiI, Head of Digital Architecture and Cyber Security, HM Courts and Tribunals Service as part of our #techUKSmarterState campaign

Technology is changing the way we think, feel, and how we serve our court users. It's also changing the way we work and can enable us to work better and smarter. To deliver the Reform programme, we’ll be leveraging modern technology and associated skills and capabilities to build a modern system for administering justice. It will benefit everyone who uses it, for generations to come.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has set the bar high for digital transformation in government, and we plan to rise to the challenge by not only transforming our way of delivering services to citizens now, but also by building online services which will be fit for the future. Architecture, a borrowed term from the civil engineering discipline, applies equally well to technology systems engineering.

We see digital architecture as one of the core pillars of the Reform programme. The reform is a far-reaching initiative across the country and is supported by the complete thinking of how to plan and build for the virtual world. We will drive planning for the creation of the technology building blocks to develop this new virtual world, underpinned by the Internet, as the information highway.

How are we helping the Reform programme?

The Digital Architecture team will bring a common framework to support the Reform programme in developing citizen-centric, sustainable, and resilient digital services to meet the needs of courts users.

The changes we’ve made over the past year (including reviewing the baseline of how our function operates; resetting the ways of working within digital architecture; and clarifying our functional remit) have been welcomed by our HMCTS colleagues for the increased clarity of direction and cross-team co-operation they will bring.

Data and security

I believe access to data in a timely manner is the main rationale to influence technology. The ‘Digital Age’ is sometimes referred as the Information Age and I strongly prefer the latter term - digital is only the means, the harnessing of data is the actual benefit. It helps that our CEO, Susan Acland-Hood, is a strong advocate of open and accessible data, and our team has already started building its data as a domain capability and helping the Reform programme to shape data constructs. It's also our role to set the strong standards that will support this work, whilst ensuring that personal data is kept securely, and we have some of the best security architects supporting our teams to do this.

In traditional transformation programmes, security used to be an after-thought, a bolt-on to technology and that worked well enough for a while; however, as the digital systems start to operate in the cloud, security requires a different perspective and has to be part of the design. We strongly subscribe to this principle of security by design and prefer not to publicise our security building blocks for obvious reasons. Cyber security is a key element within our work.

Our ambition

Our team has just initiated an overall architecture strategy review across data, applications, integration, cyber security and technology/platforms. We are also revisiting our vision and objectives, to re-affirm the direction and benefits of our work. This exercise aims to provide a stronger foundation and sharper focus to subsequent rounds of systems engineering and implementation at HMCTS.

We want our role to define a consistent and agile approach to building technology. To enable the delivery of user-centred digital services for our legal system, both in the virtual and physical world, we will focus on how applications are designed, how they integrate and interact with other services and how data is shared securely. We will focus and execute the method in line with GDS principles that will enable the Reform programme to deliver a customer-centric modern justice platform for citizens and other court users. We are building a modern digital platform for an effective administration of Justice — that is not only for us, but for our forthcoming generations too.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the Inside HMCTS blogs page.

Join the discussion on #techUKSmarterState To see more blogs like this, please visit the website here.

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