MyCase answers one of the most frequent questions people attending court ask:  Now what?

MyCase is the Neighbourhood Justice Centre's online messaging system that gives the clients of the court real-time information about the timing and status of their hearing.

Court staff and legal representatives keep clients abreast of their hearing status and actions required via SMS/text about. Updates include:

  • activities planned for their visit, e.g. referrals for support services.
  • changes in case status (stood down, waiting to be heard, delayed and so forth)
  • where to be and who they will meet with.

The system includes an electronic information board situated at the door of the court that displays status of their hearing.   

Akin to an airport arrival/departures board, information shows what matters are:

  • Waiting for a duty lawyer
  • Required for pre-court preparation  
  • File is in court
  • Completed hearing  
  • Stood down
  • No appearance

MyCase is an opt-in system. Registry signs people in using the client’s phone number or email address, and as it is not an app there is nothing to install and uninstall.

Benefits

  • Help the court to coordinate the order of cases more efficiently. 
  • Reduces the stress of waiting, as clients are informed of their case status.

Context

As with all courts, attending court is a stressful. And as with other courts, clients are required to undertake a number of activities, often with little forewarning.

Despite this, clients receive minimal information about the progress of their hearing. Understandably, clients want to know if they are free to leave the court, for instance to top up a parking metre or buy lunch, and fielding questions frustrates staff, particularly if they can't answer with certainty.

This information vacuum creates anxiety for court workers and clients alike.

Beyond this, there is the fundamental principles that courts have an ethic of care, and information is not only a necessity but is a simple act of courtesy.

Key features

Efficient

  • Notifications are delivered in real-time 
  • Court hearings proceed promptly as everyone knows what's happening
  • Interpreter services flagged in time to organise the service in a timely fashion
  • Plain English interface for ease of use
  • Translation assistance option provided

Innovative

  • Developed through partnership with private-sector digital agency.
  • Uses Agile Project Management Framework, based on iterative prototypes to optimise designs and direct research with court users to incorporate feedback.
  • Enables a new level of public transparency into the operations of the court.

System-wide improvements

  • Captures data that can be analysed to develop predictive modelling for court scheduling.  

Solution-focused design

MyCase began with the question: what if courts provided information like airports do? 

Research with court users confirmed the need.  The universal adoption of s,mart phones proved its viability.  

This reach resulted in a joint proposal to the Victorian Government Technology Innovation Fund (VGTIF) with a local digital agency, Portable Studios.  

We designed and developed MyCase using an iterative Agile methodology.

Where to next

MyCase launched at the centre in July 2016.

The pilot phase includes user feedback which goes to improving the system. 

Our goal is to have a product that is ready to be delivered to other courts in the near future.