Courthouses and courtrooms are increasingly dependent upon large amounts of sophisticated technology. Whether termed “AV” –“ audio video,” or “IT,” – information technology, the amount of technology needed in courthouses will continue to increase. The age of personal internet access and communications constitutes fundamental changes in both how we do things and in our expectations. Lawyers, for example, wishing to present their cases visually, who need to examine remote witnesses via videoconferencing, and who need to consult real-time court transcripts need to practice in technology-enabled courtrooms.
The new technology needs mean that all those involved in building construction and renovation, whether architects, technology experts, judges and court administrators, or any of the many specialists working in the field need to know what technologies are necessary and how and why they should be designed for. These Guidelines provide that information for the AV/IT technology components.
The key to successful technology implementation is careful planning with detailed needs assessments.
However defined, and we discuss the varying definitions extensively, infrastructure is truly critical. Planning a building and its spaces so that it can accommodate the technology that will prove necessary, including later maintenance, upgrading, and replacement, is the most important technological requirement. So long as the infrastructure has been adequately prepared, technology can be installed inexpensively and properly when funds permit. Otherwise, building and fiscal constraints may make that impossible. When facing limited budgets for technology, put the money into the infrastructure!
Coordination among all the building trades, the technological specialists, and the court’s judges and staff is absolutely essential to avoid disaster. Remember to consider the security needs and implications. We are increasingly facing “convergence” between AV and IT. IT experts working in this field must master the AV components to ensure success.
A courthouse is not just a building, and a courtroom isn’t just a room. Law and legal culture control and dictate acceptable technological solutions. The best technical answer frequently is legally unacceptable. Do NOT plan for courthouse or courtroom technology without including judges, court administrators, courtroom technologists, and lawyers.
Careful planning and coordination will yield a result of which all can be proud.
Joseph Bocchiaro III, Ph.D., CStd, CTS-D, CTS-I, ISF-C
Vice President of Standards and Industry Innovations at InfoComm International