The innovation was developed to solve the difficulties encountered by citizens in accessing the criminal justice service and thus contribute to regenerating the confidence in the system. The cultural and technological transformation of this service increases the quality of the citizen's experience and the judicial agent involved. Buenos Aires' Public Prosecutor's Office applied emerging technologies and innovative management techniques and achieved a more agile, productive, and efficient criminal justice system.
The level of complexity of the environment in which the Public Prosecutor's Office of Buenos Aires (Ministerio Público de la provincia de Buenos Aires) carries out its functions has increased as a result of the growing demand for fast and quality judicial decisions. The project takes advantage of the opportunities arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution to respond to these demands. The innovation consists of the cultural and technological transformation of the criminal justice service in the province of Buenos Aires. The project consists of the integral digitalisation of work processes, the interoperability of the computerised management system with those used by the bodies involved in the criminal process (Police and Justice Administration), the incorporation of a CRM to manage the relationship with the citizen by applying Design Thinking, the adoption of agile methodologies in the judicial offices, the incorporation of control panels, the adoption of qualitative research techniques to understand the needs, motivations and personality of the users of the system, among other implemented initiatives that will be developed throughout the different fields of this webpage.
The objectives are to contribute to guaranteeing access to justice, to speed up criminal proceedings, to further increase the levels of institutional transparency, to optimise the human and technical resources of the organisations involved, to expand the information available for evidence-based decision-making and to improve the experience of the citizen and the judicial agent. Several administrative resolutions have been issued that institutionalised the project in the current context. This has been accompanied by training activities for users that can facilitate the management of the cultural and technological change. In the next stage of the innovation, there is a plan to apply techniques based on machine learning to assist judicial officials in the processing of criminal investigations. In defining the course of action, suggestions and input from citizens (satisfaction surveys) and judicial agents (projects and initiatives in my innovation programme) were taken into consideration. As a result, the strategy was drawn up and all stakeholders in the system were involved in the process of designing the public policy in question.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The uniqueness of the case lies in the strategic and planned application of a set of emerging technologies and modern management techniques in the criminal justice service. This has led to the emergence of an emerging functionality, which is more than the sum of the parts involved in the system, and which has improved both the Customer Experience and the Employee Experience. It should be noted that the project has a potential reach of 17 million people. In Argentina and Latin America, we have not found any precedents for similar initiatives. Internationally, some judicial bodies in the State of California have leveraged digitalisation to improve the Customer Experience in the judicial sphere. Similarly, there is also a people-oriented service design lab at Harvard and Stanford Universities.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The team adopted Professor Chesbrough's open innovation paradigm. The partners in the process were the following provincial actors: the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the judicial agents who submitted technological initiatives to the Programme that leads the innovation, the Bar Association for lawyers and the Bar Association for civil servants and magistrates, the Ministry of Security (Police), the Judicial Police and the trade union (SCBA Agreement No. 4024).
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The users are citizens and judicial agents. The benefit can be seen in the project's metrics. Some examples are 647,599 victims were contacted through the CRM, 23,551 judicial working days were saved in the uploading of criminal complaints, and the adoption of agile methodologies by 344 judicial units. It has also been possible to identify and resolve what the aforementioned users have identified as key issues, which in turn allowed for improving the Customer and Employee Experience.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The impacts of the innovation include that 3,483,969 procedures have been digitally or electronically signed in the Electronic File in which the criminal investigation is processed, 1,395,680 messages were exchanged through the Virtual Assistant of the agency. Also, 865,217 notes were sent digitally in administrative processes. Before, for example, an employee's promotion had to be sent on paper and had to travel 627 km. Today, this process is completely digital. 647,599 victims were contacted through the CRM of the Public Prosecutor's Office, which keeps them informed about relevant procedures, and 217,418 citizen complaints were filed digitally. In the Covid-19 pandemic, its use grew by 569.29%. 23,351 judicial working days were saved in the uploading of criminal complaints and 344 judicial offices adopted agile methodologies. In the future, it is hoped that these and other complementary tools will allow the solution to be scaled and that the judicial experience can be adapted to each citizen and judicial agent based on empathy.
Challenges and Failures
The main challenge has been managing cultural change. The judiciary is hierarchical, vertical, based on control and discipline. A key challenge was that people in this institution are resistant to change and it is not possible to use economic incentives to motivate employees. The citizen does not trust the judicial system. Added to this are the large territorial distances that make communication and containment of people difficult. There is also the heterogeneity between those who live in rural areas and those who live in the conurbation of Buenos Aires. The challenges we face are the lack of technological infrastructure, the vulnerability of citizens and the difficulty of retaining human talent. We have addressed these challenges by generating an omnichannel customer service strategy that takes into account the needs of each type of user (person method or método persona in Spanish). To this end, we are inspired by the case of ICICI Bank. We are also working on a change agent programme to help align the culture with the strategic plan.
Conditions for Success
Conditions for success have included the support of top management, the creation of an open and participatory model capable of transforming creativity into innovation, strategic partnerships, the design of people-based services (in particular citizens and judicial actors), the support of informal change agents in the structure, the creation of an innovation programme with coordinated and focused competence, the existence of early wins and the institutionalisation of change (PG Resolution No. 353/18). It has also been important to provide constant training through different channels that connects with users' fears and concerns when working with new tools.
We are accompanying and technically assisting the Ministry of Security of the Province (Ministerio de Seguridad de la Provincia) in the implementation of the digital police summary that in the future will automatically feed the electronic criminal investigation of the Public Prosecutor's Office. This has allowed us to realise that the problems and challenges faced by other agencies in the process of change are similar. Therefore, this experience could be transposed to other actors, taking into account their singularities.
The attention given to the citizen is as important as the outcome of the judicial process. Empathy is fundamental to design lasting and sustainable solutions. The person method (método persona) adopted in the Criminal Defence Offices of Quilmes within the framework of this project is a good tool to achieve this objective. It can also be complemented by other techniques such as usability tests or climate surveys. Citizen participation in the process benefits the quality of the criminal investigation. The same is true for the involvement of all stakeholders in the innovation process. In addition to generating improvements that have an impact on the judicial process, digitisation makes it possible to speed up transparency and the productivity of judicial agents. In a complex reality, teamwork and interdisciplinarity are necessary. A timely understanding of the megatrends and challenges that humanity will face in the coming decades is essential to strengthen justice and promote general welfare.
As mentioned above, all the techniques and technologies applied to the criminal justice service in the province of Buenos Aires have allowed for the emergence of an emerging autonomous functionality that is disruptive and unique, in which an interconnection between all parts of the system and between it and other systems can be glimpsed.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
10 August 2023