MDEC Update: Anne Arundel County Prepares for Pilot Program
By Judicial Information Systems Executive Director Mark Bittner
Preparations for the planned 2014 pilot of Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) in Anne Arundel County are in full swing. Key activities include:
Software preparation — The MDEC software vendor, Tyler Technologies, and Judicial Information Systems (JIS) are working to adapt Tyler’s core case management software to the specific needs of Maryland, and to modify related existing systems to integrate with Tyler’s system. This integration is needed because both old and new systems will need to function for several years as MDEC is launched systematically statewide. JIS has also begun detailed planning for exchanging data with state and local justice partners.
Data conversion — As MDEC is rolled out to each jurisdiction, the data currently housed in the old (“legacy”) systems for that jurisdiction will be moved to the MDEC system. This does not include the paper documents of past cases, but will include the docket entries and information captured currently in the systems. The conversion of this existing data into the MDEC system involves identifying and standardizing codes that are currently represented in different ways for different systems. It also means developing a standardized naming system and the appropriate placement of data within the MDEC system to properly represent the history of the case. Data conversion is a time-consuming and repetitive process that requires a great deal of review and refinement.
System configuration — Most modern business systems, MDEC included, are built with a degree of adaptability for variations in business processes between customers or units using the system. The method by which you tell the system how to operate is called ‘configuration’. In the case of MDEC, 92 business processes have been identified that need to be configured to operate effectively for both the District Court and the Circuit Courts. This activity is underway and involves a great deal of analysis, discussion, and decision-making.
Courthouse preparation — Moving to an electronic operation will involve installing additional equipment in the courtrooms, particularly monitors, and providing wireless communication within specified areas in the courthouse. An assessment of the courthouses in Anne Arundel County has recently been completed, and a determination of physical modifications is underway. Installation will be scheduled to minimize the impact on court schedules in the coming months.
When all these activities converge in early 2014, comprehensive testing of the MDEC system will take place. Concurrent with that will be the development of orientation and training materials for everyone affected by MDEC. The project will then be in a position to determine the final schedule for the introduction and implementation of the pilot in Anne Arundel County.