Why FOIA Professionals Should Care About DoD 5015 Compliance

Why FOIA Professionals Should Care About DoD 5015 Compliance

The UC Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems addressed the growing need for more efficient Records Management in 2003, reporting:

“The world’s total yearly production of print, film, optical, and magnetic content would require roughly 1.5 billion gigabytes of storage. This is the equivalent of 250 megabytes per person for each man, woman, and child on earth… Over 96% of business information is in digital format, 1% is on paper and that 70% is never printed.”

In 2013,  15 years later, Seeking Alpha published a blog post in which they claim that since 2015, 90% of the world’s data has been generated:

That year [2015], the digital universe, i.e., the reservoir of data created and copied, totaled less than 10 zettabytes – that would be 10, followed by 21 zeros. By 2020, it is expected to grow more than four times to 44 zettabytes. Just five years after that, it could reach 180 zettabytes”.

I don’t know about you, but I found this information startling.

And as the numbers show, year after year, effective records management becomes even more critical.

Government agencies are one of the largest contributors to the growth of records in the US.  In addition, most of the data that government agencies create are governed by at least one data-handling legislation. This kind of complexity brings agencies to a point of having to rely on records management software.

Furthermore, things get even more complex because some of the government records should be released in the public as per the Freedom of Information Act. Then the records management system should enable the FOIA agencies to quickly, easily and legally release certain documents that can be released, while being able to do a needed redaction of that document before it is released to the requestor.

So, if you are the one in charge of choosing a records management solution for your FOIA agency, DoD 5015 compliant software is a good starting point.

Let’s shed some light on what DoD 5015 really is and why FOIA agencies need a DoD 5015 compliant software.

What Is DoD 5015 Standard?

what's DoD 5015 standard
DoD 5015 or the Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Solutions is a Records Management standard that resulted from the need for better management of records. The Department of Defense discovered that its record-keeping standards were lacking during the Gulf War.

As a result, DoD created a set of standards for records management which as it has evolved, has become the benchmark for private and public entities.  DoD 5015 compliant software emphasizes data security, protection from data loss and data destruction.

This standard was developed in 1993 by the Department of Defense and their goal was to re-engineer internal Records Management processes. Soon after, in 1995, they published a report in which they outlined the requirements and data elements for Electronic Records Management Applications (RMA).

In 1997, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), developed the report into a testable and measurable design criteria standard known as DoD 5015.2.

The DoD standard specifies hundreds of detailed requirements that Records Management Systems must meet and assists agencies in complying with NARA initiatives.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important requirements:

  • Management of emails and attachments in electronic formats
  • Records destruction in a manner that prevents recovery
  • Management of records stored in electronic formats
  • Tools to aid the search and retrieval of records
  • Linking of records to supporting materials
  • Organization disposition instructions
  • Security classification markings
  • Organization records series
  • Organizational file plans
  • Retention calculation
  • Access controls

In 2007, the 3rd version of the standard was published with an addition of the following requirements:

  • Interface and behavioral requirements for integration with electronic Records Management Systems.
  • Additional metadata for e-mail, pdf, digital photographs, images, and web records.
  • Capability to create alerts and notifications regarding changes in metadata fields.
  • Capability to restrict metadata access based on the contents of fields.
  • Tools to support RMA-to-RMA interoperability.
  • FOIA/Privacy Act workflow requirements.
  • More automatic linking requirements.
  • Greater data security and integrity.
  • Additional transfer requirements.
  • Data discovery requirements.
  • Vital records review cycles.

A part of the 3rd version of DoD 5015 focuses on requirements that specifically support net-centric information sharing principles. The aim behind these requirements was to make records:

  1. Visible – By developing and registering standardized metadata.
  2. Accessible – Through Web services with useable, standardized interfaces.
  3. Understandable – Through the availability and use of rich metadata describing the records and their context.

Why Care About DoD 5015 Compliant Software?

to protect their data, FOIA agencies should consider DoD 5015 compliant software

Records management is no longer only a technical issue. Chief officers need to spend time thinking about this because there are significant liabilities if information leakage were to happen.

Chief officers need to be proactive in how their organizations handle corporate data because the bottom line is their corporate reputation is on the line.

Perhaps the most painful non-compliance case was Hillary Clinton and how her staff handled their data. Their non-compliance probably cost Hillary her presidential race just a few years ago.

DoD 5015 compliant software helps vendors to make sure they use the best processes and technologies for handling sensitive data. Non-compliant software, that fails to keep up with DoD recommendations, will simply be pushed off the market by competitors that do make sure their solutions are compliant.

As CMSwire says: “By being certified, Records Management Solutions can assist corporations to achieve compliance and reduce risk by enabling them to control how and for how long enterprise content is retained. It also ensures destruction of that content when this time has elapsed.”

Knowing that a system has been tested against the DoD’s strict standards and achieved full compliance with DoD 5015, gives your organization the assurance that the solution you chose supports Records Management in a standardized way.

This means that the Records Management Solution, through organized record structures and plans, manages the lifecycle of all of your records. From initial capture to long-term archiving, paying special attention to:

  • Workflows and Business Process Management,
  • Federated and advanced search,
  • Security and access controls,
  • Auto-classification,
  • Records retention,
  • Version control,
  • eDiscovery,
  • FOIA, etc.

DoD 5015 compliant software will be certified to properly do the following:

  1. Break down information silos in a standardized way which makes the team more productive, while ensuring that information is accessed in a prudent and compliant way.
  2. Set mandatory metadata standards for all records, including different formats such as email, photos, and office documents.
  3. Find the best methodology for the destruction of electronic records at the end of their lifecycle.
  4. Provide a standard approach for the transfer of records from one agency to another, and for transfer from an agency to NARA.
  5. Define metadata requirements for classified records.
  6. Define requirements for FOIA and Privacy Act solutions.

Because of this, DoD 5015 has become a de facto Records Management standard in North America. And as the Government continues to implement these new changes and requirements, the level of consistency across the government alleviates the chaos.

How DoD 5015 Standard Affects FOIA Request Processing

Version 3 of this standard requires the Records Management vendor community to migrate towards providing “standards-compliant services to larger service-oriented architectures.” This is for achieving broader information sharing.

Version 3 DoD 5015 pays special attention to requirements supporting management of classified records, as well as requirements that support FOIA.

Records Management Applications (RMA) that support the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have specific requirements to achieve open and improved information sharing under DoD 5015 standard:

  • Organization Access Rules. RMAs must provide functionality that supports authorized personnel in preparing and posting access rules for the public to gain access to FOIA Information.
  • Access Rule Metadata. RMAs must provide the capability for an authorized individual to create an access rules record.
  • FOIA Access Requests. RMAs must provide functionality that supports authorized personnel in recording, tracking and managing FOIA request.
  • FOIA Request Time Limits. RMAs must provide the capability for an authorized individual to set time limits that shall apply to acknowledge requests for access and for providing access.
  • Tracking FOIA Requests. RMAs must provide authorized individuals the capability to track FOIA Requests.
  • Workflow Suspense Dates. RMAs must provide the capability for an authorized individual to assign the FOIA request to a workflow or to create and assign alert logic to user-defined interim suspense dates and extensions to suspense dates.
  • Disclosures. RMAs must provide authorized individuals the capability to record disclosure requests and track, manage, and account for disclosures.
  • Managing Disclosure Request Metadata. RMAs must provide the capability for an authorized individual to create a record of an FOIA disclosure request.
  • Disclosure Exemptions. RMAs must provide an authorized individual with the capability to create and manage exemption records
  • Linking Exemptions to Records. RMAs must provide an authorized individual with the capability to link an exemption record to a record or a group of records.
  • Appeal Time Limits. RMAs must provide the capability for an authorized individual to set time limits that shall apply to process appeals.
  • FOIA Reports. RMAs must provide authorized individuals the capability to create, file, and manage FOIA Reports.
  • IA controls for availability, integrity, confidentiality, authentication, non-repudiation. The software must be National Telecommunications and Information Systems Security Policy-compliant.

As you can see, having a DoD 5015 compliant software is of great importance for FOIA agencies. Dealing with large amounts of data every day, Records Management and data safety is an unavoidable part of FOIA processing.

Chapter 3 of Version 3, DoD 5015 pays special attention to FOIA processing. With all the requirements listed above and much more (which you can see here), DoD 5015 takes good care of Records Management in FOIA processing.

Benefits of Adhering to the DoD 5015 Standard in FOIA Requests Management

Now, let’s take a look at some of the benefits DoD standard will bring to your FOIA agency in addition to the benefits we listed above:

  1. DoD 5015 Compliant Software will protect every FOIA request and all records related to that request. Including correspondences, case-related records like notes, multimedia files, etc.
  2. DoD 5015 Compliant Software will standardize the metadata for all request-related records.
  3. DoD 5015 Compliant Software will make sure to standardize the approach for the transfer of records from one agency to another, and for the transfer from an agency to NARA.

The DoD certification process is one of the toughest standards worldwide. And when choosing an RMA, you want to make sure it takes care of the entire lifecycle of your content. You want to make sure it provides standardized metadata, security, and access controls, version control, workflow aligned to organization processes/procedures/controls, retention, archival, federated and advanced search.

Alfresco Records Management

Alfresco DoD 5015 compliant, open-source records management

Alfresco is one of only 14 RMAs to have their Records Management product certified by the Department of Defense. And it was the first one to achieve this distinction. Also, it’s open-source, making it the go-to standard for cost-effective records management solutions.

Tara Combs, Alfresco’s Information Governance Specialist explains:

“We’re excited to announce this certification, which demonstrates our commitment to security and compliance. The features required for certification must include very sophisticated access control to content and records that ensure that only those who need access to content and records have access…Meeting the DoD 5015.02 CH3 standard means that customers in the U.S. government can now manage all their content – classified and unclassified – in a single, unified digital business platform that offers content, process and governance developed by a single vendor on a modern OpenStack.”

Alfresco is an open-source software company focused on advancing the flow of digital businesses. It provides an improved, effortless way for FOIA agencies to manage records of any type at the highest level of DoD 5015.02 security certification, including:

  • Electronic documents,
  • Images,
  • Emails,
  • Videos, etc.

The key component of Alfresco’s infrastructure is providing a basis for records retention, legal holds, disposition and intelligent storage management of both digital and physical records.

With it’s refined and straightforward automated controls and interface, Alfresco allows authorized users to set permissions, disposition, and retention policies across a single scalable repository.

Alfresco also provides a flexible and scalable BPM engine that enables users to create and engage in workflows based on organizational processes.

As such, Alfresco helps more than 1,300 industry-leaders to digitalize processes, manage content, and govern information successfully.

Some of the biggest names Alfresco helps are:

  • US Department of Navy,
  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff,
  • Bank of NY Mellon,
  • Capital One,
  • NASA,
  • Cisco, etc.

With today’s DoD certification, Alfresco can alleviate the need for government agencies to integrate and maintain separate records management solutions on the backend and provide a more effective holistic solution that is scalable and easy-to-use.

“This certification allows Alfresco to compete for business across the entire federal government, regardless of security requirements,” said Tony Franzonello, Alfresco’s regional vice president, Federal Sales.

“It removes a hurdle that could prevent some customers from swapping out their entire legacy ECM solutions for Alfresco. It also demonstrates a commitment from Alfresco to be a top-tier provider of content, process and governance services.”

“These security features allow us to meet standards in other verticals such as Financial and Insurance as well as global standards such as ISO 15489 and 16175,” said Combs.

Alfresco Content Services 6.0

On July 11th, Christian Finzel, the Senior Advisor of Market Intelligence at Alfresco, announced the release of Alfresco Content Services 6.0.

As Finzel explains, the major focus of the new Alfresco Content Services 6.0 is on significant architecture improvements such as:

  1. New containerized deployment option, based on Docker and Kubernetes.
  2. Anonymous usage metrics via Heartbeat. Alfresco Content Services send anonymous usage metrics to Alfresco through the Heartbeat service. Alfresco uses this anonymous information to meet users needs of the organization and help them understand the usage of Alfresco products.
  3. Significant library upgrades in both the repository and Share.
  4. Containerized deployment. This includes Alfresco Repository, Alfresco Search Services, and Alfresco Share.
  5. Upgraded integrations. Alfresco Content Services 6.0 introduces some changes that require new releases of all modules. To upgrade to Alfresco Content Services 6.0, users need to update any of the module artifacts to which they are entitled.
  6. Expanded REST APIs. An updated version of the REST API Explorer is provided to navigate the new REST APIs.
  7. Code organization. Enterprise customers are able to build the artifacts from scratch provided they have an access to the Alfresco Nexus repository (enterprise-releases).

Finzel adds: “As customers embrace DevOps, infrastructure as code, the cloud, and Alfresco, the capabilities introduced in Alfresco Content Services 6.0 deliver a step change in time-to-value.”

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of the new Alfresco Content Services 6.0:

  • Reduces operational cost – Customers are now able to scale the infrastructure up and down quickly depending on the current workload.
  • Uses trusted Open Source industry technologies – Based on Docker & Kubernetes, customers can deliver fast and standardized deployments across environments.
  • Accelerates development and deployment – Containers reduce environment inconsistencies and support DevOps to accelerate development and deployment from the test environment through a staging system to production.

All of this makes Alfresco the only proven ECM, open-source platform to be DoD 5015.2 certified, uniquely positioned as a cost-effective and full-featured alternative to proprietary solutions.

Alfresco, with all of its features, can be used even by customers outside of the U.S. Government. They can easily take advantage of the granular security features developed for certification and, as such, be sure that their systems are built on a platform that is the gold standard for records security.

Let’s Wrap Things Up

DoD 5015 compliant software for security and data protection
When choosing a Records Management Solution, FOIA and government agencies, in general, must pay special attention to security and data protection. And, when it comes to a Records Management certification, one particular standard stands out: the DoD 5015 standard.

Every government agency should start with DoD 5015 standard and look for a DoD 5015 compliant software. This standard is widely adopted as a de facto standard for all Federal agencies as endorsed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The reason for the endorsement is because DoD 5015 compliant software makes sure to provide Information Governance throughout the lifecycle of all content providing:

  • Workflow aligned to organization processes/procedures/controls,
  • Federated and advanced search,
  • Security and access controls,
  • Standardized metadata,
  • Version control,
  • Retention,
  • Archival.

This is why not all RMAs can be 5015 compliant. They must be tested against the requirements specified by the standard.

The testing must be conducted by the Joint Interoperability Test Command, part of the Defense Information Systems Agency, that tests information technology and national security systems.

The reason for the DoD 5015 compliant software is to protect your content from data loss and data destruction. The standard is designed to help users implement best-practices records declaration, classification, and records administration while improving productivity.

Armedia provides DoD compliant solutions relying on Alfresco, the only open-source data management platform that is DoD 5015 compliant.

Alfresco as the best open-source platform to be DoD 5015.2 certified, will make sure to meet your organization’ operational, legislative, and legal needs. This combination of easy-to-use yet powerful Records Management Solution helps government agencies to save time and resources while protecting and organizing all their records.

This is the reason why our team at Armedia decided to rely on Alfresco to ensure a DoD 5015 compliant software. This way, we make sure our software responds to all of your operational, legislative, and legal needs while making sure your security is in the first place.

If you want to learn more about Armedia FOIA Software Solution, you can check out our other FOIA blog articles.

If you have any questions about DoD 5015 compliant software or about Armedia FOIA Software Solution, feel free to ask or leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

AI As Disruptive Innovation In The Legal Sector: Why Established Legal Vendors Should Embrace AI

AI As Disruptive Innovation In The Legal Sector: Why Established Legal Vendors Should Embrace AI

established legal vendors should embrace AI

Being present in the Legal world for so many years, you have probably witnessed a number of buzzes.

“Something new, innovative and life-changing has occurred.”

“A new technology, an innovation that will change the industry forever.”

You’ve been probably hearing the buzz of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for years now. And as the time passes by, you may have noticed that, besides the big claims, nothing big has come out of it yet.

AI is here, making enormous changes in the Legal sector, and most importantly, AI is here to stay.

Maybe it’s time to accept the fact that AI is not just a buzzword, but rather a real disruptor that has already made revolutionary changes in the Legal Sector and will continue to do so.

Let’s see why.

AI in the Legal Sector: Industry Disruptor or Buzzword?

AI as industry disruptor

Last year, the newspaper ‘Lawyers Weekly’ wrote about an Australian tax lawyer that opened a ‘Law Firm Without Lawyers’.

As Lawyers Weekly reported, the law firm offers Last Will and Testament services, assistance with business structuring, and asset protection.

This law firm is expected to include a suite of options to support victims of domestic violence in the future.

Adrian Cartland, the owner of the law firm, explains:

The difference is that where one would expect to find a lawyer sitting behind a large mahogany desk, there is a computer that clients can use to consult.”

He explains that AI is able to answer questions related to Wills and help the clients generate a perfectly legal Last Will and Testament. And for customers who require support, a member of their team is available at the click of a button…

“This is true Artificial Intelligence that is being applied to make everyday life easier,” says Adrian Cartland.

He adds: “The current process to write up a Will can be very time to consume and expensive…Making a Will should be as easy as popping to the shops for a carton of milk. Artificial Intelligence makes the process cheap, fast and legally binding.”

As we can see, AI is definitely much more than just a buzzword in the Legal Sector. But, it is also important to point out that although the power of AI in the Legal Sector is not to be undermined, there is no need to worry that AI will replace a legal professional.

As the behavioral scientist and senior research fellow for Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession and the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr.Paola, says:

“Indeed, I think this is where we often hear that misconception that AI, machine learning and deep learning will replace human beings — especially lawyers. Instead, the way to look at it, I think, is that AI, machine learning and deep learning will be a way of complimenting people’s decision-making, allowing us to make the most interesting work our priority.

We will be able to answer very complicated questions — key strategic questions — and having more fun doing it. AI can free up lawyers to focus on the more analytical and strategic thinking aspect of tasks − because, despite AI’s ability to locate, distill and organize any quantity of data for the needed information, the interpretation of the information still needs to be done by a human being.”

Dr. Paola makes some great points. Let’s see why.

Why Established Vendors Should Embrace AI-Powered Solutions

“With AI, lawyers will shift their focus from routine activities to much more high-value work involved in shaping strategies and navigating complex legal problems.”   Gillian K. Hadfield, a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Every day, the helping hand of AI finds its way to reach deeper into the Legal Sector and help to solve difficult tasks. With much faster pace and better accuracy than any legal worker can… in more than just one Legal area.

Let’s take a look:

AI in legal sector

1.  Image Analysis

A.   Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

One of the oldest usages of computer software and images is recognizing texts on images. Basically, it’s the process of recognizing texts on scanned documents.

Using AI in OCR is the process of taking a scanned set of documents, and applying training and dictionaries in order to recognize as much text as possible, with as high of reliability as possible.

The Legal sector benefits greatly from AI in OCR. All the forms, documents, archive materials etc. get digitized by scanning and text extraction. With legal forms, things get easier as you can train the system to understand what sort of documents are being processed, and what vocabulary is used throughout the documents. That way, even if the scanned image is of a lower quality, the computer can recognize a certain word based on a dictionary it uses in the legal sector.

This kind of image processing helps legal organizations digitize large archives of documents, and extract text from them with a high-reliability score, with minimal human intervention.

B. Objects Recognition (Image Taxonomy)

Unlike text recognition, object recognition is a much more challenging technical problem.

One of the best representatives of this problem is the famous “dog or a muffin” problem, and there are plenty of texts dealing with the technicalities of coding in the software that will be able to tell the difference

is it dog or a muffin

Image Source: Freecodecamp.org

This type of a problem also happens with recognizing actual objects in an image, from patterns that appear to have the same geometrical structure. Is it a person, or a graphite. Is it a car, or a box and two trash cans?

Using AI and machine learning to properly identify objects is very important for legal case files. Imagine a use case where a legal worker needs to find an image where there is a photo of a crime scene with a gun and a wallet. Instead of sifting through photos manually, the legal worker can run a search for these two objects, and get a list of images where these two objects are found.

C. Computer Vision (Scene Description)

Scene description is, at least for now, the holy grail of image recognition. And AI is making this attainable, soon.

For people, it’s very easy to see a scene and quickly identify the objects, their relationships, and deduct/explain what the picture represents.

Take a look at this example

Image Source: PyImageSearch.com

The software here is accurately recognizing the objects in the image. One step further from this is to deduct the relationship between these objects. We can see that in the image, the software has recognized that there is a fence, a few pots of flowers, a horse, and a person.

But to fully explain the image, we’d want the software to be able to recognize that the horse has jumped. And the person riding it is on it. And that the fence is below the horse.

So the full description of the image to (eventually) be as succinct as: “A jockey successfully jumping over an obstacle.”

Such scene description capability can be very helpful in documenting and identifying car accidents, people interacting at a crime scene, or even recognize acts of violence in real time.

2.  Textual Analysis

A. Contract Analysis

Contract analysis is a Legal area which can easily be covered by AI. The process requires reviewing, analyzing, deriving value, and checking legal agreements against current laws and rules.

Although the workflow of this process varies in each case, the basis is always the same. And thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP), all of these functions can be easily done by AI technologies.

NLP is much faster and accurate than humans, and that’s why AI technologies supported by NLP can easily and quickly free up lawyers from time-consuming tasks such as:

  • Financing/OTC derivative agreement review,
  • Sales/procurement contract review,
  • Employment contract review,
  • Compliance and risk review,
  • Some types of eDiscovery,
  • Due diligence,
  • Lease review.

B. Legal Data Research

Legal Data Research is another Legal area where AI-powered solutions can help your employees speed up the process.

Compared to other enterprise search or a database trawl, AI technologies are much faster and effective. These technologies do not only search for the best answer, but they also learn from the questions asked. They isolate the information needed from a mass of data instead of bringing upon hundreds of documents that contain the same keyword.

In addition to this basic legal research, AI can do predictive legal research based on a comparison between previous case records relevant to the current case. For instance, comparisons between previous actions of lawyers, available court documents, rulings made by judges on similar matters, etc.

Based on these comparisons, AI provides information on the likelihood for success and the possible damages that could appear in the case.

C. Intelligent Interfaces

intelligent interfaces

The third main branch of Legal AI is the development of intelligent interfaces.

Intelligent interfaces are interactive, web-based, Q&A systems. They either guide users in completing basic legal documents and forms or enable them to gain legal information via text input.

These systems use NLP to understand the input from the dialogue box and Machine Learning (ML) to help the system provide the right answer.

Intelligent interfaces are usually based on drop-down menus and checkboxes to quickly move the user through a series of steps.

The presence of AI in all of these areas helps lawyers to finally get rid of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks and focus on solving more important and complex problems.

3. Voice Systems (AWS Transcribe)

Recognizing characters on a piece of paper is relatively straightforward. Recognizing objects, not so easy, but still doable.

Recognizing speech from a recorded video is a lot more challenging. The ability of systems to clear out ambient noise, and recognize two people dialoguing, and then extract that dialogue into a text file, is quite the achievement.

AI and Machine Learning make this possible. And not only possible, but doable, and useful.

Systems that can read an audio or video file, and return a timestamped transcript of the dialogue are commercially available.

We’re actually using the Amazon Transcribe service in our Armedia Legal Case Management module for ArkCase.

I’ve covered this subject in a recent blog post on how AI helps the legal sector with multimedia transcription capabilities, but just to quickly summarize it here: AWS is allowing us to process legal hearing recordings, recognize different people talking in the video, and then return a neatly indexed, timestamped transcript of the video conversation.

If Bill and Harry are talking, Amazon Transcribe will be able to know who said what, when, and offer a neat transcription file of that conversation.

This technology is making the life of legal workers much easier, as they can search in a video recording just as easily as if it was a Word document.

Final Thoughts

Over the last decade, the impressive benefits of AI ensured its place in multiple industries. Improving their operational performance in many small, but significant ways.

One of these industries is the Legal Sector.

And yes, industry disruptors can be risky, but only for those who decide to ignore them.

So far, AI has made significant changes in the Legal Sector, especially in the 3 areas we discussed earlier:

  • Image Analysis,
  • Textual Analysis, and
  • Voice Systems.

The added benefit for most of us is to understand that AI will NOT replace people. It will rather help us focus on helping more people with their cases.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to share this blog post with your colleagues on your social media.

5 Ways A Modern Correspondence Management Solution Improves Workflows

5 Ways A Modern Correspondence Management Solution Improves Workflows

modern correspondence management solution for improved workflows

Do you want to learn how a modern correspondence management solution can improve workflows in your organization? How organizations manage correspondence can reflect their professionalism, capabilities, and internal organization. And, if you want to take a serious step toward improving your organization workflows, it’s time to think about modern correspondence management solution.

Correspondence Management is a business’ workflow of receiving, recording, responding, and sending data about projects, clients, etc. Correspondence could be something simple like communication between contacts, or something formal like the relationship between customers and providers.

Here are some examples of correspondence that your business should closely manage:

  • Project manager notes or instructions,
  • Letters, faxes, or memorandums,
  • Records of phone conversations,
  • Requests for information,
  • Project design reviews,
  • Meeting agendas,
  • Important files,
  • Change-orders,
  • Emails.

A somewhat short list that is responsible for big headaches for organizations.

Now, let’s look at the 5 ways that a modern correspondence solution can improve your organization’ workflows.

1. Monitor and Manage in an Organized Way

organized management and monitoring

Most of the communication that happens in most businesses is on paper, except records of phone conversations and emails. If organizations don’t find an effective way to organize those communications, critical data could be lost from a certain project, and that in turn, could hurt the company.

That’s why it is important for organizations to adopt a modern correspondence management solution that will allow them to monitor and manage their correspondence workflows in an organized and timely fashion.

Formal letters, hard copies of data, requests for information etc. are very difficult to manage in real time. Shifting your current correspondence management system to a digital platform that provides a modern solution can improve the workflows and professionalism of your business. It can also eliminate wasted hours of manually organizing paper-based files.

2. Track Important Contacts

modern correspondence management solution for tracking important contacts

Miscommunication often leads to mismanaged documents. That’s why it’s essential to set up a correct and neat structure to communicate with stakeholders involved in a specific issue or project.

A modern correspondence management solution will effectively organize all structured and unstructured data. It will make it easier for users to associate correspondence items with their corresponding contacts. The quicker and more efficiently you track and manage the communication with your customers, the faster an issue gets addressed.

Tracking and managing proper correspondence within your organization will streamline the whole correspondence management process. It will also reduce errors and save your organization valuable time.

3. No More Time Spent Generating Correspondence Templates

reducing the time spent on generating correspondence templates

Different projects or clients require different correspondence. So, it is very likely that you’ll spend a lot of time making letter templates that will best fit the specific messages. This is another factor that contributes to wasting time which can set the business behind schedule. On the other hand, a modern correspondence management solution will have a set-and-forget feature to build the templates you need for any client, and for any type of correspondence.

4. Safe and Secure Storage of Information

safe and secure storage of information

Some communications may carry more sensitive data than others so it is vital that confidential and official documentation stays safe and secure. That’s why one of the greatest priorities of your organization should be safe and secure archival of information and correspondence between clients.

It is likely that your organization will have a hard time managing this with paper copy correspondences. But then again, adopting modern correspondence management solution for all correspondence workflows is a safer and more secure approach. You can keep track of what letter was sent to whom and where. Your company will better protect sensitive data and communication with clients if you handle them digitally.

5. Store All Correspondence in One Place

storing all correspondences in one place

Keeping all the data in one place is a smart way of protecting your organization. If your organization involves many parties connected to a single matter, then all of them have to be on the same page. Cloud solutions like AWS are a great platform to store all digitized documents, neatly organized and searchable.

All your scanned and OCRed paperwork, all your internal communication, and any client-generated responses can be stored online, accessible from anywhere in the world, yet secured.

How Armedia Can Help Your Correspondence Management Needs

Armedia can help you efficiently organize your correspondence while helping you manage the creation, revision, and approval of documents. Armedia builds Modern Correspondence solutions and support so you can promptly and easily manage your correspondence templates within your organization.

Armedia can provide support to your organization through:

  • Search, design and building process
  • Custom user interface design
  • Project management
  • Business analysis
  • Template design

Armedia has partnered with ArkCase and Alfresco to offer you a modern correspondence management solution that will provide you the following capabilities:

  • Document annotation and redaction
  • Records management integration
  • Correspondence templates
  • Document management
  • Personalized dashboard
  • Search and reporting
  • Queue management
  • Workflow

Armedia, using ArkCase and Alfresco offers workflow-driven, modern case management solutions that can enhance efficiencies and productivity in your organization, lower costs, and meet program needs in key areas. These include Case Management, Task Management, Correspondence Management, Digital Asset Management, and FOIA Management.

If you need help with managing your organization’ correspondence or you have some questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! And, don’t forget to share this article with your colleagues on social media networks.

How Modern Legal Case Management Helps Law Enforcement With AI-powered Solutions

How Modern Legal Case Management Helps Law Enforcement With AI-powered Solutions

modern legal case management helps law enforcement with AI-based solutions

When most people think about Law Enforcement, they probably imagine a bunch of police officers running down the street, chasing the bad guys. Bringing law to practice. But police work involves digging for clues from surveillance cameras, interviews, court videos etc. And paperwork. Lots of it.

In a National Survey submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, officers in the U.S. spend an average 45% of their time on administrative duties.

I’m not implying that administrative work isn’t important. But it’s kind of funny to bring administration almost to the same level of importance as practice.

To grasp the importance administration has in each case, let’s take a closer look at this less action-filled face of Law Enforcement. After that, we’ll touch on how Artificial Intelligence systems help with video transcription and in-video search.

Reducing Paperwork Efforts With Workflows and Automation

reduce paperwork with workflow automation

Thanks to Open-Source software like ArkCase, Alfresco, Ephesoft, and thanks to the easy accessibility of the Amazon Web Services, law enforcement agencies can now get a cost-effective legal case management solution and reclaim those 45% time spent on paperwork.

Over the years, our team at Armedia has handled large data migration projects for government agencies. We’ve learned how things work from a workflow perspective, and from a technology perspective.

This experience helped us put together an add-on module for Legal Case Management. Our base is ArkCase, an open-source case management solution that neatly uses:

  • AWS, for practically infinite scalability and ease of access
  • Ephesoft, for quick and easy document digitalization
  • Alfresco, for DoD 5015 compliant data storage

Because ArkCase is open-source, it’s the perfect platform for building a cost-effective legal case management solution.

Most paperwork in legal cases is repetitive work. Because of that, we’ve built-in the workflow with all needed forms and dependencies between forms. Law enforcement agencies will need little to no work to get the system tweaked according to their needs.

So when one officer opens a case for any infraction, depending on the type of case, all the forms come up and the officer basically just needs to follow the workflow. The system is guiding the officer and ensures there is no room for human error in the case-building work.

Improving Efficiency with AI-Powered Video Transcription

Screenshot of AWS Transcribe, integrated in ArkCase

Other than setting up the paperwork for the case, officers are hard-pressed to be detailed in building the case using evidence.

Most of the times recorded interviews, court recordings of witness statements are key evidence in closing a case.

In complex cases, it’s hard to keep in mind all of the interviews, all of the nuances, all of the mentions of key words and phrases. This is why video transcriptions are so crucial for legal workers.

Thanks to strong progress in Artificial Intelligence systems like AWS, accurate video transcription services is no longer a tall order.

The screenshot above is a preview of the ArkCase interface for video transcription. A law enforcement officer needs to upload the video file, and AWS takes over. Thanks to massive hardware infrastructure, processing each video and extracting the speech into text happens very quickly. Within minutes, entire videos can be transcribed, with timestamps and an easy-to-use interface for fixing the text to get 100% accuracy.

Once the transcribed video is checked for transcription accuracy, the entire text is stored as part of the case. This text is indexed and searchable.

Law enforcement officers can search entire batches of videos on a given keyword. The system returns the list of mentions of that keyphrase, with a timestamp, so people can just click the link and see the video at the exact time when the searched phrase is mentioned in the video.

This simple, yet extremely helpful AI integration makes legal case management a lot easier, and a lot more effective.

It would be interesting to see how much time gets saved on paperwork if only all of the law enforcement agencies switch to such a modern legal case management platform.

To Conclude

Law Enforcement is not just about chasing criminals on the streets. An evidence can be captured in a single word in a court hearing or in an interview. To get to that word when solving a case, your employees must have a helping hand.

Built from the ground up as a Case Management System, Armedia Legal Case Management Module for ArkCase includes configurable workflows, forms, rules, and access-level management.
Our legal platform is all about managing a case from start to finish. And since Law Enforcement processes are never rigidly structured, our workflows are configured as dynamic and collaborative. Designed to handle complex, non-linear processes and track enormous amounts of data, whether it is scanned documents or multimedia material like court recordings.

This solution will help any Law Enforcement organization to save time, effort, and resources while increasing the security, quality, and value of all case records.

If you have any questions or comments related to our Legal Module, feel free to contact us.

And please, do not forget to share this blog post with your friends on your social media channels.

Improve Legal Case Management Using AI For Multimedia Transcription

Improve Legal Case Management Using AI For Multimedia Transcription

improve legal case management using AI for multimedia transcription

I have talked about Armedia’s Legal Case Management Module so many times now, and every time I finish writing a blog post, I feel like I have left something out. Going through my recent blog posts, I’ve realized that I haven’t spent much time explaining the Artificial Intelligence (AI) component in our Legal Case Management Module.

Moving away from the Holywood image for AI as rebel robots with human-like appearance, AI, in fact, is an excellent Case Management assistant to any Legal Department.

Why? Because, multimedia transcription.

Let me explain.

Imagine a legal case. A courtroom, witness interviews, cross-examinations, police testimonials. Everything gets recorded. Everything gets typed in by the stenographer. Everything except people’s emotions when they say something that can be crucial for the case.

Now, imagine the legal workers going through stenography recordings to find specific keywords. Tedious, at best.

Now imagine how much better it would be if you could just take the video recordings of all the hearings and simply, extract the text, make it searchable, and make it clickable… so you can find every single mention of a word and jump to the exact spot in the exact video file where this word is mentioned.

This is why Amazon Transcribe is so widely used. For us in the US, it’s perhaps the best place to go for multimedia transcription.

Let’s see why.

Why Amazon Transcribe?

AWS has been one of the leaders in the industry for more than 12 years. They always try to keep up the pace with the evolution of language and continually improve their Transcribe platform.

Besides the speed the platform offers, AWS delivers one of the most accurate, if not the most accurate multimedia transcripts out there.

AWS does all this because Amazon is focused to provide 3 key deliverables: Capacity, Simplicity, and Accuracy.

Let’s cover each one in more details.

1. Simplicity

AWS Transcribe makes speech-to-text conversion very simple. It does not require some complicated programming. Just upload the multimedia content you want to convert into text on Amazon S3 and the platform will return a ready-to-use text.

Basically, all you need to do is to upload the desired multimedia file in your S3 Bucket, select a language, and wait for the multimedia transcription job to be completed. Which doesn’t take much thanks to all the processing power of AWS.

It’s really that simple. But for some, it may be a bit too simple. I’m not a huge fan of their UI. I’d definitely make the look and feel a bit up to date. But it gets the job done.

2. Capacity

Amazon Transcribe is designed to do multimedia transcription for various formats, with different quality.

By now, AWS has managed to enable their Transcribe platform to process multimedia content:

  • From telephony to studio-clarity recordings (8-48KHz sample rate)
  • Long audio and video recordings, up to 2 hours long
  • In two different languages: English and Spanish
  • In WAV, mp3, mp4, FLAC formats

One thing that hurts AWS is their languages coverage. There’s a lot to be done here, but at least for English-speaking needs, AWS is really, really good. They do a good coverage of Spanish as well. So just by looking at what they offer (English and Spanish), AWS seems a bit too US-oriented compared to other vendors.

3. Accuracy

As I’m approaching Amazon Transcribe as a component-user from ArkCase, this third point is the most important one for me, so I’ll spend a bit more time on it.

The key deliverable for Amazon Transcribe is ready-to-use texts that do not require further editing. But in cases where AWS is not certain, it gives you an Accuracy Score, which usually is pretty high.

From an ArkCase perspective, we get a simple interface to edit the transcript for a 100% accuracy. The cool thing is that any time you change the transcript somehow, you’re training AWS to get better. So any time you alter a text, or punctuation, or a timestamp, you’re artificially increasing AWS’ intelligence.

To achieve this, Amazon Transcribe has special features that contribute to the high accuracy and production of ready-to-use multimedia transcriptions.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Punctuation

Amazon Transcribe is capable of formatting the text automatically and adding appropriate punctuation to the text as it goes. This way the platform is producing an intelligible output which is ready-to-use without further editing. I really get excited thinking about the level of analysis that goes into punctuation. The vocal pauses, the context of the pause, intonation of words etc. All this is factored in for your text to be properly punctuated. Fascinating.

  • Confidence Score

AWS Transcribe also provides a confidence score (showed in percents) which displays how confident the platform is with the transcription. As I mentioned before, any time you make a change to the suggested transcript, you help AWS return texts with higher Confidence Score.

  • Possible Alternatives

The platform also gives you an opportunity to make some alterations in cases where you want to. This usually happens when a word is difficult to understand. People pronounce words differently, and audio quality may be too poor for proper machine understanding. Each time you accept an alternative, you make AWS smarter.

  • Timestamp Generation

Thanks to deep learning technologies, Amazon Transcribe produces automatically time-stamped transcripts. This means that the platform generates timestamps for each word, AND for each scene, which has text contextualization in mind. This feature of Amazon Transcribe increases the searchability of the transcribed media file.

  • Custom Vocabulary

AWS Transcribe allows users to create their own list of custom vocabulary. This feature enables the user to expand the speech recognition of the platform. This way you’re giving the platform more information on how to process your speech in the multimedia file. This is very important for legal cases in general, and cases where audio files are processed from technical interviews on a very specific topic. The more domain-specific vocabulary you’ve trained in, the better AWS is at returning highly accurate multimedia transcriptions. You can Create, Delete or Update existing vocabulary files.

  • Multiple Speakers

Amazon Transcribe can easily identify 2-10 different speakers in a multimedia file. The platform can easily recognize when the speaker changes and accordingly attribute the transcribed text to different speakers.
This feature also enables the users to select the number of speakers they need to be identified in the multimedia file.

Overall, the Accuracy side of things is pretty well covered, so, well done Amazon. What I find most useful is the ability to build topic-specific vocabularies. As most of our use of ArkCase and AWS Transcribe is in the Legal department, having a trained vocabulary helps a lot in quickly and easily getting the Confidence Score in the high 90%.

Amazon Transcribe As A Part Of Armedia Legal Module

Armedia legal module and Amazon transcribe

Throughout the years, you have probably come across the need of increasing the accessibility and searchability of your multimedia content. Whether it is a simple customer call, recording of a meeting, judicial hearing, etc. there is a need for large organizations to derive value from stored multimedia content. And, as data stored in audio and video formats increases every day, so does the need for a platform like Amazon Transcribe.

Our team has recognized the need for converting multimedia content into a text in legal organizations, and because of that, we’ve decided to integrate this platform as a part of our Legal Module.

Thanks to the integration with AWS Transcribe, Armedia Legal Module can now help organizations derive value from multimedia content and as such enable them to:

  • Make multimedia content much more accessible and discoverable,
  • Improve search capabilities of multimedia content,
  • Analyze customer multimedia data,
  • Automate subtitle creation…

Having these capabilities, now every legal organization can easily organize (and find) multimedia content in a quick and secure way.

Final Thoughts

We made Amazon Transcribe as part of our Legal Module so that many organizations can benefit from this AI-powered multimedia transcription service.

This integration enabled our team to add a reliable speech-to-text capability to our Armedia Legal Module. Now, legal agencies have full search functionality of multimedia files.

So, if you are in the Legal industry and have many multimedia formats that need to be securely transcribed, feel free to contact us.

And, don’t forget to share this post on social media. Maybe some of your colleagues need a reliable, secure multimedia transcription service too.