City of San Antonio innovates with eWarrants and smart forms
Often times, there is this misconception that greater efficiency somehow comes at the cost of quality of service. In this case, the City of San Antonio has shown that through innovations of eWarrants and smart forms, they were able to accomplish both.
Hugh Miller, CTO of the City of San Antonio, took on the challenge to find ways his team could deliver IT innovations that would not only deliver efficiencies, but helped the city better serve its population.
Like many other agencies I’ve worked with, one key area identified was the transformation of thousands of paper forms to electronic smart forms. By reducing the time front-line staff spent manually duplicating information from paper forms to back-end systems, these individuals were able to spend more time doing their primary job instead of being paper pushers.
One innovation discussed in this video is are eWarrants. The task of filling out a warrant was reduced from 2 hours to about 15 minutes as noted by William P. McManus, Chief of Police, San Antonio Police Department.
However, the benefits extend beyond cost savings. The extra time saved enabled their police officers to spend more time in the community, keeping it safe. It also reduced the number of errors in the forms and because the forms were electronic, it enabled the documents to be routed electronically to the judge in court. Once electronically signed, the warrant can be quickly delivered. In an investigation, the speed with which a warrant can be issued is paramount.
Finally, as Alfredo M. Tavera, Judge at San Antonio Municipal Courts discovered, the entire process was transformed. In the past, if a detective brings paper documents which were not correct to the judge, the detective would have to go back to his office, correct it and request another hearing. However, in the case of electronic document collaboration, any changes are made on the spot and complete steps in the process are eliminated.
An added benefit of eWarrants is that all data is collected immediately in electronic format so report generation is easier, more detailed and less error-prone. In other words, more transparent.
We often times think of IT as big servers living in deep basements. In this case, the City of San Antonio took technology and brought it to the forefront, looking at ways IT could help improve the interactions between agencies and the public.