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What do Airports and Courthouses Have in Common?

Not many of us see an airport and a courthouse as having similar challenges. However, proven technologies can be taken and applied from one essential enterprise to another. Both have a need to manage a large number of people from the time these individuals have purchased an airline ticket, or received a jury summons, to get to their respective gate or courtroom. The need to speed up the process to reduce delays and lineups at airports and courthouses has increased, and similar new technologies are being used to assist these two agencies in meeting their surprisingly similar challenges.

We have all encountered new ways to navigate through airports on way to our destinations. To speed up waits at the airport, we now have the option of checking in online. When we check in online, critical data such as passport information and other relevant data can be entered online, enabling the airlines to process your travel quicker and more accurately. The next option is using a kiosk to check in and print boarding passes. Once checked in, passengers are then guided to the appropriate gate by finding their flight number and gate at the many flight-information display systems located throughout the airport.

Many similar technologies are now in use, or are being developed, to assist jurors when they have received a summons for jury duty. According to the National Center for State Courts, approximately 15 percent of the adult American population is summonsed to jury service each year in state and federal courts, and these volumes of jurors need to navigate through the system.

When a juror receives a summons, they are required to exchange personal information with the court to ensure that they are qualified to serve as a juror—similar to the process required by the airlines to gather critical travel data. Many courts in the country now offer jurors the option to go online and complete the required jury questionnaire form. This process is the first step in getting the juror processed to the courthouse for jury duty.

Checking in as a juror historically requires all prospective jurors to line up in a single queue and be validated by the jury staff, culminating in the issuance of juror badges. Using similar technologies to airports, courts are now deploying sophisticated kiosks that allow jurors to check into the court, exchange additional data if required, and print juror badges.

Once all the jurors are checked in, most courts then create smaller groups called panels, which are directed to specific courtrooms for the final step in the juror selection process. The jurors need to be directed to whichever courtroom they are required to go—similar to being directed to a gate at the airport. To simplify this process, courts can now use multiple monitors located throughout jury assembly areas to identify which jurors have been selected on panels and which courtroom they need to proceed to for juror selection.

At an airport, the final step for travelers is to collect their luggage, and in the jury world, the final step is to collect their jury pay. Jurors can now complete their journey through the jury world by receiving their jury pay at the kiosk—by check, payment card or electronic fund transfer.

These exciting new technologies are actually in use and have been provided to many courts by our Justice Solutions group.