Ministry of Justice empowers judiciary systems
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice has implemented a number of innovative technology solutions to help improve processes and create transparency in the Kingdom’s judicial system
With a number of successful IT projects under its belt, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice has become one of the acknowledged leaders in the Kingdom in using technology to overcome the challenges of complex processes, large workloads and widespread geographical locations. The Ministry of Justice has a wide ranging remit, which covers a number of different areas for the Kingdom, including courts, notary office and administrative branches, spread across the Kingdom. The Ministry is responsible for all the judiciary, and providing services to support judges.
Majed Othman AlOthman, General Manager of the IT Department at the Ministry explained: “Our ministry is working specifically for the legal system, the court and the land market, and the marriage system too.”
With a diverse range of stakeholders and functions to serve, it is no surprise that the IT department of the ministry has undertaken a wide range of e-government projects to meet the various needs of these stakeholders. One of the main undertakings for the Ministry’s IT team has been to provide more statistical data and analysis of performance across a variety of metrics, through several KPI systems.
One area that falls under this provision of statistical data is the land market. The Ministry has developed a solution to show current land values and track prices, with the data made publicly available, to increase transparency in the land market.
“This is empowering people in many different ways, we give them the actual data, we share it with the public without any charges,” AlOthman said. “If you give people the information they need, they will not go to the court or the notary. If you give them the right information, the right data, they will make the decision themselves.”
The Ministry of Justice is also using a KPI system to track the performance of judges and staff, which updates every five minutes, to allow management to have a clear picture of how staff are performing in next to real time to improve efficiency. The Ministry is also tracking crime statistics, for internal use and for researchers and academics in the field. Across the public and private KPI systems, the Ministry is now tracking over 180 separate indicators, AlOthman said, with around 3,000 users per month on average.
While the Ministry takes data from other sources, it has also developed data warehouse systems to handle the large volumes of information it requires. The Ministry developed two data warehouses, one for courts, and one for notaries, based on Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint technologies, which support business intelligence, a public portal for transparency and a collaboration environment for notaries. A new business intelligence solution is also being developed.
AlOthman explained that the IT team convinced the stakeholders of the value of the business intelligence by demonstrating it to senior decision makers: “We started with the top management of the judges, we pulled out some information and how they could make decisions from it, and showed them the results. It was not easy to convince the judges, but once we started it, we got them onside.”
Given the sensitive nature of much of the Ministry of Justice’s operations, security and authentication of systems is a major feature of its projects. One important solution which has been rolled out to serve multiple user groups is a fingerprint recognition system which is used for authentication in court rooms and other locations.
The fingerprint solution, which was deployed around one year ago, takes biometric data from the Ministry of Interior’s National Information Centre, which is used to confirm the identity of a person. The systems is used to verify the identity of people dealing with notaries, and the land ownership market, and judges can be equipped with USB fingerprint scanners to authenticate identity.
The biometric solution has also been combined with video conferencing solutions, to help tackle an issue for court appearances and transport to and from courts.