Are You a Firewall to Your Own Success?

We probably found this funnier than we should have, but we’re a software company – what do you expect?

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Whether you identify with the fax-fanatic or the defeated presenter, hopefully you also found some humor in this. As a paperless organization, it’s intuitive for us to type notes that are automatically backed in a cloud, transfer video files through an online portal, and give virtual presentations via Microsoft Teams. But, all too often, we’re reminded by our colleagues, clients, partners and friends that digital communication is still not the norm.

Burned by the Firewall

We can get a healthy laugh out of this cartoon because it’s satirical of our very existence, which involves the daily battle of digging people’s heels out of the ground when it comes to digitally transforming their painfully paper-heavy processes. To us, going digital makes complete sense: your data is more secure, communicating is easier, efficiency, accountability and visibility are all increased, a few trees and some sanity are saved… the list goes on.

We could talk to you about the benefits of going paperless until we’re blue in the face and, if you’ve had the pleasure of working with us, you know we will. But we’ve come to learn that no matter how many facts we present from every possible angle, we’re not getting passed anyone’s firewall until they turn down the heat. If someone is a stickler on paper and manual procedures, they will incinerate our points with the flames of their implacability before our words have a chance to hit even one ear. Trust us, it happens all the time.

“Why Are You Not Paperless?”

You probably cringe more at this question than the once-per-year holiday dinner where your extended family interrogates every aspect of your personal life. But before you start flame throwing responses like, “it’s much too expensive!” or “the process isn’t broke – why fix it?” we ask that you think about the real reasons behind your apprehension –  growing pains and organization-wide changes are uncomfortable, and it requires a lot of preparation.

No judgment – we completely get it.

Take your time to research, talk to your industry’s thought leaders on paperless organizations, watch demos, and definitely consider the financial investment. Maybe read this article from the National Center for State Courts. But keep in mind that most organizations, and especially public-serving government agencies, are realizing they can no longer gamble sensitive information, data, and years of organizational know-how on the risk of paper, which can be lost, misfiled, easily neglected, or destroyed in natural disasters, like the tragic, unexpected California wildfires.

So What is the First Step to Going Paperless?

Be open to it. Understand what it means to “go paperless” (hint: it’s more than just emailing and/or eFiling). Take an inventory of your current infrastructure and procedures, and identify what’s not working or could be improved. Visualize the potential of your organization and set the goals to get there.

Once you have that, give us a call. We’ll partner with you to understand where your organization is  compared to where you want it to be and work hand-in-hand with you to establish blueprints for your paperless organization – even if we have to fax the initial plans to you.

We Want to Hear From You!

As much as we like to talk, we’re also great listeners! Leave your answer in the comment section below. We read and respond – promise!

Which persona do you identify with in the cartoon above? What is or was your biggest hurdle to digital transformation?

Want to stay updated on the latest government tech trends? Find the news directly in your social feed by following the ImageSoft Government Solutions showcase page.

 

From Crime to Courtroom: Multi-media Integrity

In a recent article from “Police Chief,” video evidence is described as the “silent witness that speaks for itself,” and that’s nothing but the truth. With the video, images, audio and metadata needed to playback crime scenes, it’s critical that multi-media evidence can be unmistakably seen and heard by the entire courtroom.

Many organizations, homeowners and investigative offices think evidence is safeguarded by investing in best-of-breed surveillance cameras. While it is helpful to have a quality source of evidence, it’s not doing  the judge, jury or the case any justice if the courtroom is using a worn-out projectors or older display technologies.

Projecting the Problems

A common consequence of poor projection methods and monitor displays is lost pixel data and, therefore, image quality. Even if a courthouse invests in a higher-end projection system (the best are around $20,000), the forecasted image still passes through the courtroom’s lighting and will be somewhat affected by the various beams. And don’t forget that projection screens inevitably fall victim to discoloration, which also impacts the projected image.

And if you think installing display monitors will close the case, think again. Like most organizations, courthouses don’t have the funding to continuously invest in new or various-sized monitors, so screens that are dated or disproportionate to the video or image’s size will again diminish the pixel resolution and overall quality of the evidence. Undersized monitors also lead to alterations of an object’s size or shape and color changes, which means evidence will still somehow be lost.

So the takeaway is to ensure that any video and image evidence has a resolution that corresponds with the courtroom’s display methods, right? Meh. If a tree falls but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Same type of issue. Presenting high-quality, multi-media evidence is only half the battle. After all, if the jurors can’t see the evidence in question, can it truly impact their decision?

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The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommends the “3H” rule: viewers should be no more than three times the height of the picture away from the screen. Unfortunately, many jurors are seated much farther than this to truly witness the evidence on display and make an informed decision.

Ruling Out Evidence Obstructions

If you’re concerned about your courtroom’s technology infrastructure and overall blueprint, you have a few options. Consider surveying frequenting prosecutors, attorneys and even past jurors on their experiences with presenting and ingesting evidence. You should also do some homework on modern courtroom models, the strategies behind the designs and the effectiveness of each.

After conducting this internal audit and researching best practices, have a chat with your court’s trusted IT person and brainstorm budget-friendly ways to implement any necessary structural changes. After all, evidence serves as the retraced footsteps of a crime scene and communities rely on their court systems’ ability to walk justice from the crime scene to the courtroom.

We Want to Hear From You!

Do you think your courtroom needs a make-over? With an unlimited budget, what would you change about it?

Reply in the comments section below or on our Court Solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

 

 

A #TenYearChallenge for Government

If you’ve scrolled through social media at all in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen friends and family, celebrities, and even some of your favorite retail and fast-food chains participate in the #TenYearChallenge.

Many of them made us laugh.

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Some invoked a tasteful sense of nostalgia while pointing to 10 years of stagnancy as a win for all.

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Others took the opportunity to make a more politically-charged statement about a dire need for change.

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While there were many creative statements made during the ten-year challenge, there was one, seemingly innocent decade-old comparison that made many stop and reflect on how much time has changed the way we interact with the world.

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Maybe it wasn’t this exact picture. Maybe it was of a flip-phone versus a smartphone. Maybe a dinosaur computer versus a tablet. In any case, your reaction was probably the same – “Wow! I remember when…”

For example, anyone born before the early 2000s probably didn’t travel unless they a) had the route memorized, or b) plotted the route on a physical map and secured a co-pilot to keep them on track. Nowadays, we simply plug our destination into Google Maps and we’re off! Thanks to GIS integrations, technology will even re-route us if an accident or heavy traffic is delaying the original directions.

I’m not sure whether today’s kids are lucky or deprived for not having to endure hours on the road listening to their parents quarrel over a giant map outstretched on the dashboard.

While many of us put these changes in the context of our daily lives, we probably didn’t connect the dots to how technology has changed our jobs. For government departments, the evolution has been incredible.

Ten Years Ago…

You were still spending your birthday at the DMV (AKA, the Secretary of State’s office) renewing license plate tabs. Leslie Knope just started introducing us to the real struggles of the parks and recreation department. Leanne didn’t know she’d be the star of an “OnBase for Human Resources” series, and #GovTech know-how definitely wasn’t streamed into your daily LinkedIn newsfeed.

Ten Years from Now?

The #TenYearChallenge may have seemed like a gimmicky social media fad, but it actually forced many of us to reflect on how much time changes people, places and processes. What we know as normal today could be a polaroid picture of the past in ten years’ time.

With constituents at the forefront of every operation, government agencies need to keep pace with the changes of the world. Many are hopping on the tech bandwagon and doing their best to stay relevant, but the change will continue as consumers increasingly demand mobility, immediate gratification, and convenience – all of which your file cabinets, manila folders, and snail-mailed paperwork cannot offer. Staying connected to the people, driving community involvement and ensuring responsible citizenship means constantly adapting to and adopting the innovations designed to fulfill those exact needs.

If your department has no records management process, automation or streamlining capabilities in 2019, what will it be like in 2029? You have to walk before you can run, and if your department can’t walk with these tools today, it surely won’t be able to run into whatever the standards are for 2029.

So, what does a government agency that’s up-to-par with societal pace look like in 2019? A 360-degree view of all records and documents in one, secure location. A paperless workflow that gets the job done and in the right hands with just a few clicks. Integrations with the best-of-breed solutions that serve your niche government industry’s current needs and future goals. In other words, OnBase.

We Want to Hear from You!

Where would you like to see your department in ten years?

Answer in the comments section below or on our Government solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 1

By Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

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Do More with Less Money in Less Time

In government, budgets are tighter, technology is aging and constituents are demanding more and are upset when things seem slow or when they can’t get timely updates or resolution.

One of the top strategies that agencies use to address this is to go paperless. Paper-driven processes are inherently inefficient because only one person can work on a document at a time. To overcome this, staff will adjust processes around the limitations of paper such as making multiple copies of a document which makes it a nightmare for maintaining official records.

The great irony is that many government agencies with slick public-facing sites are converting digital submissions into paper to get the work done. And to provide your constituents with online updates or access, someone has to turn the data or documents back into an electronic format again.

So how does going paperless with an enterprise content management platform (ECM) make government do more with less?

There are three key factors that have the potential to dramatically improve services to the public that you serve:

Reduce the Time Spent Organizing and Sorting Your Inbox

In a production environment, a significant portion of time is spent by employees organizing their day and figuring out what they have to do next for each file in their inbox. It’s not unusual to see paper files being carted around and handed out to employees to work or workers using bins under their desks. And if someone is out of the office, transitioning the work to someone else is complicated if not all the notes are in the file.

An ECM platform manages the incoming work by sorting them into buckets using pre-configured rules, balances out the load to prevent cherry picking and presents the various workers with the tasks they need to accomplish specific to the file. Whatever time was spent organizing and rifling through files, whether it’s 10-30% of their day, can now be focused on work. And when an employee needs a file to respond to an inquiry, files can be retrieved in seconds on the same call rather than taking minutes or hours and playing phone tag. And if someone is out for the day, all notes and files can be distributed to other staff with the click of a button or dragging a file to a user’s icon.

Now there’s no excuse for not having a clean desk.

Reduce Time Finding Supporting Documents

When looking at an application, you may need to view supporting information submitted by the application or accessing past case history. By having all the information there, automatically organized and sorted by the document type, you can make decisions quicker instead of digging through an old file box or suffering another paper cut by flipping through a file.

A big part of this is linking the ECM platform to your core business solution. This allows you, with a button click, to retrieve the documents related to the case you’re viewing in your core application. It also allows decisions recorded in the ECM system to update your core applications so you’re not duplicating your efforts and risking keying errors.

Let the Computer Do the Work

An ECM system without the ability to automate tasks is like a car without an engine—you end up having to do all the work. The real value in an ECM platform occurs when you can configure the system to do some of the mundane, repetitive tasks that rob you of the time needed to do the work that only people can do.

For instance, what would life be like if with the click of a button, an application is approved, automatically generates and prints an acceptance letter, updates a core system’s records or portal and notifies other individuals within an office or another agency for follow up? What took an hour before could be reduced to a few minutes or seconds. Boom! And now you leave the office at the end of the day having processed more cases but with a smile instead of a frown. And people are happy to see you on the street because you helped them and exceeded their expectations.

So how much can an ECM system improve your processes? It depends on the process and how many steps are involved. In a typical project, we see efficiencies go up anywhere from 25-75% (and sometimes a lot more).

For example, we reduced the time to locate employee files for National Heritage Academy from half a day to immediate access and reduced audit times by 54%. When faced with budget cuts forcing staff reductions, we saved the Prosecutor’s office in Ingham County, MI, $450,000 annually in labor savings while they were able to maintain the same workload. And we reduced the time for judges to sign child support cases from five days to one in a county court.

So, while there is some benefit to a basic ECM scan, store or retrieve, the real power comes when your department or office transitions to a digital workflow to manage the work.

How has an ECM platform made your life easier?

Coming in Part 2: Reducing Paper

Starting 2018 with a New Look

By Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

For many, it feels natural to set goals, initiatives and dare I say it, resolutions, for the new year. I never set resolutions because they are meant to be broken. Some are broken even before the ball drops in Times Square. (So much for jogging five miles a day.) But when you do achieve something great, it’s well worth celebrating. As my early career mentor used to say, “Nothing breeds success like success.” I’m not sure he coined that phrase, but he also used to tell me, “Give credit twice and then it’s yours.” I guess he made it his, and now I make it mine.

Still, nothing catches the attention like a new look whether that means you drop two pant sizes, change your wardrobe or sport a new hairstyle. The same goes for websites. Our team decided last year that it was high time for a complete website makeover. And we couldn’t get away with just a nip and a tuck. A good website is critical for any business or organization in our self-service world. Look at what Harvard Business Review recounted:

“A Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier.”

Wow. This means if you’re waiting for people to pick up the phone or shoot you an email so you can educate them on your products, it isn’t going to happen anymore. Those days are long gone like the mixtape.

This means that our website had to have great content that was customer-centric rather than product-centric so that it was easier to understand and relate to. And writing it in a fun and spunky way means people won’t get bored after the first sentence. But having great, helpful content is useless if people can’t find you so we had to implement a strategy around making our website easier to navigate and also find when performing searches.

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And since we’re no longer in the era of the 12” monochrome monitor, our website had to be responsive—meaning that whatever device, browser, monitor size or resolution you were using, the content had to adjust and work. This is no easy feat and only the most basic sites can do this perfectly. Which means that on occasion, things may not look right. We’re working on those so if you see something, say something.

And finally, we just needed a new look. While parachute pants and leg warmers were de riguer in the 80’s, those clothes are now hidden in the attic. A website that is a few years old can feel like decades in Internet time. So, we upgraded our look with new elements that better reflect who ImageSoft is and why so many of our customers engage with us.

We hope you like the look, feel and content of our new website. Feel free to drop us a line below. And if you look twice, we won’t mind at all.

The Component Model and Going Beyond eFiling

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft, Inc.

IMG_1827001002 (002)The Court Technology Conference in Salt Lake City last month went far beyond all of our expectations. We were kept busy networking with court staff members, doing live demos and sharing our experiences. Thanks for stopping by our booth and attending our two major presentations.

The Component Model in Action

Jenny Bunch talked about how our methodology of technology design fits right in with the National Center for State Courts promotion of a new interoperability model for court technology vendors. NCSC wants vendors to design products as components so that a court can take advantage of the best offerings of one vendor and integrate them with those of another. We discovered early on that building large, monolithic applications makes it difficult for courts to adopt newer technology as it too often requires removing core systems just to acquire bits of new functionality. With the component model, courts can add new functionality easier. As a vendor, we can accelerate innovations because we are focusing on one component at a time.

We continue to develop future projects which offer high levels of component design. These projects include smaller sets of functionality so courts can adopt individual pieces rather than having to purchase wholesale applications that don’t integrate well with other systems.

Among the examples of courts following this idea are those in Michigan, Tennessee and California which are using new JusticeTech components integrated with an existing system. In fact, in each of these cases, we took the lead in the integration project. See our case study library to read about courts implementing JusticeTech technology to streamline court operations.

Going Beyond eFiling

Does this sound familiar? Your court has an eFiling system but clerks are still printing and routing paper around the court and spending hours or days re-keying information into a case management system that could have and should have so easily and automatically entered the needed information from the eFiled document into the CMS. Brad Smith’s presentation showed how the electronic workflow is the missing piece of the puzzle that routes documents around the court automatically, as well as sharing documents with other agencies. Courts with a decentralized judiciary are attaining a digital workflow all the way to the courtroom without the expense of replacing their existing CMS because integration is built into the technology.

Brad also discussed how any project to automate the court must involve all stakeholders because the system will touch the clerks, judges, local bar, prosecutors, the sheriff and related state agencies.

Read more reasons why eFiling alone is not enough.

The Best of Brew: A Packed House

IMG_1873001002You know it’s been a terrific conference when the afterhours reception had to be extended to allow show attendees to continue networking and sharing experiences with each other. Or maybe it was the brew?

What was your most important take-away from the CTC conference?

Wine, Cloth, Carpentry and Court Automation

By Jeff Barlow, Justice Consultant, ImageSoft

It’s pretty intuitive that when it costs less to acquire and run an automated system than to pay people to do the same work it makes financial sense to implement the technology. However, what is a lot less intuitive, but, paradoxically, a lot more true, is that it can make more financial sense to implement technology even if people could do the tasks for less.

140_competitve theoryWhile reading William Berstein’s A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World (a fascinating and incredibly timely read), I had one of those “Aha” moments (either an epiphany or an unscheduled, age-related loss of brain cells, I’m never sure which). This one related to the international trade economic Theory of Comparative Advantage, first promulgated in the early 1800s, and how it might apply to the business case for implementation of automated systems in the courts.

In terms of international trade, the intuitively obvious conclusion is that if one nation (Country A) can produce something for less than another nation (Country B) can produce it, Country A should never buy that product from Country B. That’s what’s called The Principle of Absolute Advantage. Very obvious. Very simple. And, often, very wrong.

The key factor is Opportunity Cost. In the classic example, assume Country A can produce wine for half as much as Country B and cloth for one third as much as Country B. Further assume, in the perfect world of the theoretical economist, that any resources (labor, equipment, land) devoted to production of wine will reduce the amount of cloth that can be produced. In that case, Country A makes out a lot better buying wine from Country B in order to maximize production of the higher-margin cloth.

The part that got me thinking about the technology business case was a non-international (and for me much more understandable) illustration. Assume a highly specialized, very skilled and experienced attorney in high demand can bill $1,000 an hour. Assume also that the attorney is a very skilled carpenter; so much so that the attorney can do in half the time the same quality work as a master carpenter, who charges $100 an hour. As a strictly financial or business proposition (leaving aside personal satisfaction), should the attorney do or not do a DIY remodel job? Clearly, to the extent the time remodeling reduces legal practice billable hours, the attorney is losing (by not earning) money. That’s Opportunity Cost.

Now look at the business case for court technology. Suppose the acquisition and ongoing operational costs, for whatever reason, appear to be greater than or not significantly less than using staff to perform the same functions. While the Principle of Absolute Advantage (the obvious answer) would suggest that it would be more cost effective to forego the technology, such a conclusion may well overlook substantial Opportunity Costs. Simply put, what AREN’T those staff doing when they are manually dealing with those physical documents? What ISN’T the file storage area being used for while it houses all those files? What could those resources be better spent on? And so on.

While not the only question in the business case, how much is “being left on the table” should absolutely go into the calculation. If every staff person were capable of transporting, filing, or tracking documents and nothing else, perhaps the Opportunity Cost would be low. But that’s rarely the case. Those folks could be, and should be, and would be happier doing so much more.

 

Imagine – Part 3

By Jeff Barlow, Justice Consultant, ImageSoft

Part Three: MaaS and its Effects on Insurance and Personal Injury Cases; Technologies to Predict Outcomes

In Part One of this series, we talked about the growth of Mobility as a Service and how it is fundamentally and forever changing personal transportation.

In Part Two of this series, we looked at augmented driving and self-driving vehicles and their effect on the volume of traffic violations.

To start, consider that 94 percent of all traffic accidents result from driver error. Insurance companies are aware of this fact. So are the companies moving to develop self-driving cars. Over a year ago, Volvo declared it will assume 100 percent liability for any accidents or injuries caused by one of its vehicles while operating in fully autonomous mode; the other players (car manufacturers and makers of autonomous driving systems) are following suit.

As I noted in an article awhile back,

Of course, the manufacturers will tack the liability insurance cost onto the vehicle cost, right?

Well, maybe so; but that doesn’t mean what you might think. The average vehicle lifetime cost for liability insurance is in the neighborhood of $10,000. But, the car manufacturers don’t figure it that way. Instead, they look at what they expect the assumption of liability to cost them.

 In their risk analysis, the key piece of information is how much of the financial cost insured by that $10,000 per vehicle is based on driver error. The answer, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is … 94 percent.

 The manufacturers are betting that their cars can do better than that – a lot better. Six percent of $10,000 is $600. Then take out the necessity for insurance companies to sell policies, collect premiums, process claims, and provide a return to shareholders from the original $10 grand

So, the real number looks like something less than $600. Indeed, based on this type of analysis, buyers of self-driving vehicles might well expect significantly lower cost of ownership than with driver-driven cars. Basically, there will be a lot less risk and a lot fewer intermediaries.

The manufacturers are going to be the insurers; and they are betting they won’t be making big PI payouts very often. If this bet is even partly right, it will fundamentally change the insurance industry. It’s also likely to change the courts’ case mix and volume.

Computer Based/Computer Augmented Prediction of Case Outcome Approaching 100% Accuracy

137_imagine3If you watch any TV, you have seen the ads for IBM’s Watson. That’s just one of the manifestations of how far along the expert systems curve we are. Currently in areas as different as medicine and chess, in the ranking of successful diagnosis/prediction/performance capability, humans come in third. Computer systems (such as Watson) come in second. Yes, better than humans. In first place, though, are humans working WITH tools such as Watson.

The results of Artificial Intelligence systems to predict outcomes in the legal realm have shown predictability success rates exceeding those of experienced attorneys and/or judges.  And these systems are in their infancy.

Consider the following case types, and the impact if parties (or potential parties) knew in advance that they had essentially no chance of success:

  • Small Claims
  • Traffic Violation
  • Misdemeanor
  • Felony
  • Family Law
    • Child Custody
    • Support
    • Property Division
  • Personal Injury

It’s not a big stretch to foresee low- or no-cost apps that, given the correct “framing” of the case and facts, will provide all but certain predictability in many, many cases.

The key, of course, will be in the discovery. In some cases, legally trained help may be a requisite for getting the best prediction. In others, with very straightforward facts, there may be minimal need to consult a legal expert.

Once again, though, as people are able to see whether filing or defending a case have any realistic chance of success, filings would decrease and actual trials would become even more rare. Not to zero, (hope springs eternal) plus, as we know, clients routinely ignore the advice of attorneys in this regard. But in many areas, particularly involving pro-se litigants, expect filing and trial numbers to decline.

The Challenge

Go back to the “Imagine” categories and try to visualize court management, assuming these changes came to pass.

What would change in my court if ____

  • Revenue from minor traffic and/or parking fines is cut 50-90 per cent?
  • Filings of cases involving traffic violations drop, again by 50-90 percent?
  • Filings of auto-based personal injury cases drop by 50-90 per cent?
  • And of those filing, less than 20 percent go to trial?
  • Parties were able to ascertain (sometimes with the assistance of lawyers, sometimes without) the estimated outcome of cases with a likelihood of 95 percent or more in three quarters of all cases, and to accordingly plead, settle, or not even file?

Then, consider that there is a very great likelihood that the LARGEST changes are not on the list. After all, twenty years ago no one had heard of the Internet, so it was not included in anyone’s predictions of the future. Just over ten years ago, no one outside of developers (and Star Trek fans) even imagined the iPhone. The term “social media” probably conjured up thoughts of People magazine. Five years ago, few people had heard of “shale oil,” and fewer still assumed that gasoline would sell for under $2.50 a gallon.

So, what’s the elephant in the room that we’re not seeing today? As The Moody Blues would say, if you know, please tell me. Whatever it is, it will make its presence felt pretty soon.

Meanwhile, imagine…

 

 

Imagine – Part 2

By Jeff Barlow, Justice Consultant, ImageSoft

Part Two: Augmented/Self-Driving Vehicles

In Part One of this series, we talked about the growth of Mobility as a Service and how it is fundamentally and forever changing personal transportation. 

136_imagine2If/when Augmented Driving becomes more than a niche phenomenon, it will quite predictably accelerate the shift toward Mobility as a Service. For proof, look no further than Uber’s multi-million dollar investment in self-driving vehicles. Allowing users to summon up, and send away, cars at need reduces a large percentage of the need for a personally owned vehicle.

With the emergence of MaaS, the incidence of traffic violations can be expected to substantially drop. Add to that augmented and/or self-driving vehicles, and the drop dramatically increases. Why? Because all but an insignificant number of traffic violations performed by vehicles operating based on algorithms will result either from one of two causes: First, faulty/illegal instructions from the traveler; not misconduct by the driver. Second, from the traveler overriding the algorithm and taking manual control.

So, for example, if the traveler instructs the vehicle to exceed the speed limit, and if the vehicle’s algorithm permits such an override, while there may be a violation, it would not be a driving violation. And, it’s an interesting question whether we as a society would allow such an algorithm. And even if allowed, would we as a society NOT require that such a command be observable by law enforcement systems in real time, just as a vehicle’s motion may be permissibly observed in real time by law enforcement – on the ground, in the air, or through imbedded technology (cameras, sensors) along the road, or (most effective) transmitted from the vehicle itself?

Personally, I think you can expect fully autonomous vehicles sooner rather than later, although implementation will not be uniform nor global. “Low-hanging fruit” includes

Add to this mix the pressure from insurance companies (and maybe, later, legislative bodies) to either require or provide even more incentives for even greater augmentation, just as they have done with seat belts, ABS brakes, and air bags. In the trucking industry, for example, insurers are requiring installation of technology to monitor driver driving hours and mental acuity in accordance with new federal regulations as a requisite to writing policies for long-haul trucks.

In fairly short order, I think you can expect, at a minimum, price breaks for some or all of the following:

  • Speed governors (regulating maximum speed), possibly with context awareness e.g., What is the speed limit here? How fast is the surrounding traffic moving? What are the weather and surface conditions?.
  • Biometric driver recognition (face, voice, handprint, other) possibly connected to whether or not the vehicle will operate at all.
  • Driver physical competency evaluation, such as determining whether the driver is under the influence, fatigued, etc., again connected to whether the vehicle will operate.
  • Permission for always-on “black box” capability that can locate and track the vehicle in real time and/or be used to determine where the vehicle has been and what it was doing at any given time in the past.

More difficult to imagine, not for the technology, but for the politics, would be acceptance of both real-time and historical law enforcement monitoring of all vehicular activity as a requirement to use the public roads. The debate will occur. There is currently, of course, no right to not be observed while operating a vehicle on public roads. And, all vehicles must display a unique identifier (the license plate) while on the public roads. In some jurisdictions, opaque windows that interfere with law enforcement’s ability to see what’s inside the vehicle, are illegal.

In other words, real-time monitoring and control of vehicle driving is already here, and will continue to reduce the amount of driver-committed traffic violations. Will the “right” to take one’s chance that he/she is not being observed be deemed to outweigh the safety aspects of universal monitoring? The answer probably lies somewhere in between.

In any event, it’s hard not to predict a decline in traffic violations. Thus, fewer traffic court cases and less traffic fine revenue.

And, for the same reason, fewer traffic accidents. Which equates to fewer Personal Injury cases. A LOT fewer PI cases.

Coming in Part Three: Effects on Insurance and Personal Injury Cases; Technologies to Predict Outcomes