In the midst of a global digital revolution, U.S. Federal Courts find themselves swept up in the transformative winds of change and it won’t be long before the day of paperwork-laden courtrooms and manual processes disappear completely. The 2023 State of the Courts Report by the Thomson Reuters Institute showed that 90 percent of respondents are using video conferencing in their courts, and 83 percent use e-filing. With the arrival of advanced connectivity solutions, federal courts can embrace a new era of efficiency, accessibility, and enhanced public service. The recent Federal Courts Connectivity Symposium showcased groundbreaking advancements in connectivity solutions tailored specifically for the public safety community and federal courts.
Today, federal courts look a lot different than even just a few years ago; Technology is now essential for connecting all the key players in court – lawyers, judges, defendants, and public safety officials. Many factors play a role in the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal courts’ connectivity. During the symposium, the speakers highlighted the significance of connectivity solutions in revolutionizing court operations. They emphasized the critical technologies that will enable the courts to take advantage of the power of 5G: fiber, spectrum, software-defined networks, and MEC (multi-access edge computing). By harnessing these four components of 5G, federal courts have access to significantly more data and increased data mobility with more seamless handoffs. As a result, courts can now use technologies such as live streaming, object detection, and smart sensors to enhance efficiency.
Connectivity solutions offer a wide range of options for courts. Fixed wireless access (FWA) has emerged as an excellent alternative to replace copper lines, providing wireless connectivity without the need for physical cables. This has proven valuable for connecting remote sites with poor or no Internet access, as well as for small, temporary, or home offices requiring quick connectivity. Despite the general move back to in-person proceedings post-COVID, one federal magistrate recently explained during a ruling that, “Remote depositions continue to be a prudent and effective way to conduct discovery.” The flexible and simple setup of FWA makes this a solution that is rapidly ready and easily scalable to fit the federal court systems’ dynamic needs.
As courts embrace the advantages brought by new technological advancements, the critical need for prioritizing robust cybersecurity measures becomes increasingly evident. In the wake of evolving cyber threats, it is now more important than ever to adhere to Zero Trust standards outlined in the 2021 Executive Order on Improving Cybersecurity. By doing so, courts can safeguard the integrity of their operations and fortify their defenses against potential breaches. The past couple of years have witnessed an unrelenting surge in cyber threats targeting the entire judiciary including phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and highly disruptive DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. According to its 2024 budget request, the judiciary’s cyber defense stopped 600 million harmful events from reaching court networks in 2022. This represents a 1,295 percent increase over the 43 million harmful events that were stopped in 2020. A comprehensive approach is necessary in today’s environment for safeguarding federal courts. Effective cybersecurity demands a new operations model that combines skills, experience, and advanced automation. By embracing this holistic approach to cybersecurity, the federal courts system can fortify its defenses and ensure the continuity and integrity of justice in the digital age.
The Federal Courts Connectivity Symposium showcased the immense potential of advanced connectivity solutions to reshape the landscape of judicial operations. By integrating these technologies, the federal courts can realize enhanced efficiency, improved accessibility, and a heightened level of public service. As the courts embark on their digital transformation journey, the key to success lies in embracing connectivity solutions that provide reliable, secure, and resilient connectivity tailored to the unique needs of the public safety community and the courts themselves. The symposium provided a glimpse into a future where seamless connectivity will play a pivotal role in maintaining public safety and advancing judicial activities.
Watch the full Federal Courts Connectivity Symposium here.