By Monday morning, the court was able to successfully execute their arraignments via Webex Meetings, a cloud-based video conferencing platform. A week later, the complete judicial system was up and running. And the best part? It never stopped once during the pandemic.
“Having Cisco as a partner was huge,” Thamba claimed. “It’s a simple enough system that I could train staff and set procedures overnight. It’s my personal opinion that the key differentiator was that we could quickly go remote using Webex by Cisco.”
He went on to say that Webex’s clean user interface was especially helpful. This made it easy to train the judge’s remotely, as they quickly took the platform’s intuitive controls. And, he said, it was especially helpful having Cisco as an extension of his own team.
“We had over a dozen people dedicated completely to our needs during the first month, to the extent that the Cisco team even raided its local office for devices, wrote IOUs, and implemented those units in the jail,” Thamba explained. So, it wasn’t just systemic help, but physical assistance, too. This was key in enabling inmates to run remote hearings and connect with their attorneys in a hurry.
However, the court’s challenges didn’t end there. They soon realized they needed breakout rooms for people to have one-on-one sessions with their lawyers in a secure, virtual environment. It was also essential that these parties can easily hop back into the court proceedings without trouble.
“By August of that year, we had sophisticated breakout room functionality built into the core Webex product,” Thamba said. “We’d bring issues to Cisco, and they’d rapidly work on them.”
Notably, the city of Indianapolis’ court system didn’t allow cameras until early 2023, but that didn’t deter Thamba from taking a leap of faith.
“I knew eventually once we were out of the pandemic we could use Cisco technology to hold hybrid hearings. The thought is that you may have a witness who’s unable to travel. You could have a doctor testifying on behalf of the defense, or it could be a child that doesn’t want to face their abuser in the courtroom. So, we went ahead in late 2021 and wired our courtrooms to allow for that.”