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Environment Court trials remote recording solution

8 December 2003

MEDIA RELEASE

Environment Court trials world’s first remote recording solution

Telecom New Zealand and Auscript combine for successful pilot


The Environment Court has successfully concluded a pilot of what is believed to be the world’s first automated wireless court reporting and transcription service.

Telecom New Zealand and Australian transcription company Auscript are working together for the solution that is providing the Environment Court with same-day transcripts of proceedings – a process that enables it to work more efficiently and economically.

Digital audio recording software, provided by Auscript, records court proceedings and automatically generates files every 10 minutes which are then sent via Telecom’s 027 network to Melbourne. There, the recordings are transcribed and emailed back to the court as a Word document.

The Court has now committed to using the solution for 400 hearing days a year – about two thirds of its work. The service provides same-day court transcripts even when proceedings are being held in remote locations such as rural marae.

Environment Court’s Change Manager Hilary Sharland says the solution has revolutionised the way the Court operates.

“We’re far more efficient because previously tape recordings had to be despatched by courier, transcribed and then returned – a process that could take up to a couple of weeks.”

She says Auscript was able to return the transcripts within hours, even when the proceedings were conducted bilingually.

“New Zealanders fluent in Maori are not a rarity in Australia. Their transcription staff can handle recordings in both English and Maori.”

The Environment Court had considered a number of solutions but Auscript had recommended using GTRAN wireless data cards and Telecom’s 027 network because of the network’s reach, speed and security.

The new solution has already been used in Gisborne, Ohakune and Taumarunui and Alexandra.

Ms Sharland says the solution was also proving popular with judges, who
no longer had to rely on their own note-taking during hearings because they knew full transcripts would be available within hours.

“Judicial officers say it’s the biggest advance they’ve seen in 20 years. It’s had a huge impact.”

“We have a travelling jurisdiction – therefore we sit where the issues are, and this technology enables us to do that much more efficiently and economically. We couldn’t ask for more,” she says.

Auscript National Manager, Technology, David Kendall, says the company had more than 80 years experience and was the only fully national court services provider in Australia. It has also provided services in Samoa and Cambodia for significant murder trials and was contracted to complete the treason trials in Fiji. It plans to open a Wellington office in the New Year.

“The beauty of using the solution in New Zealand is the scope and reach of Telecom’s 027 network,” he says.

ENDS

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