I recently discovered that elevator technology is fascinating. Great minds have been developing ways to make our vertical travel faster and more efficient. They have come up with a process that can reduce waiting time by 30%. This article describes a relatively new system involving an electronic pad in the lobby of the building (like 900 Waterfront Centre, Vancouver). Passengers enter their floor number and the pad directs them to the best elevator to get them where they are going.
As time goes on, the system also identifies and learns patterns (like volume in the building at different times of the day, when the folks on the 12th floor usually go for lunch etc.). This improves the efficiency of its elevator suggestions.
Think now about the civil justice system. Many people need help to resolve their legal problems. Those who seek the help of the courts often find themselves in a queue.
At the moment, with some limited exceptions, everyone goes through pretty much the same process. For years, experts have been advocating the “streaming” of disputes based on case and party characteristics to better match the case with process options but it has not been implemented widely or effectively.
Isn’t that what elevator technology does? It streams people to the best elevator to suit their needs AND it learns as it goes along to make it more efficient the next time.
If elevator technology can do this, why can’t we use technology to assist in the efficient streaming of disputes?
This may come sooner than we think. The new BC Civil Resolution Tribunal intends to use an “expert system” approach together with user-friendly, smart online systems to stream disputes. An overview of the proposed business model can be viewed here. [http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/civil-resolution-tribunal-act/pdfs/CRT-Business-Model.pdf]
The Dialogue on Self Represented Litigants Project raised serious concerns about whether technology by itself can provide comprehensive information and support for citizens and suggested that some form of in person guidance would also be needed. Perhaps there is a happy combination that could work. It will be interesting to see what overall approach the CRT comes up with!
Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net