With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the East-West Management Institute, Inc. (EWMI), a New York-based not-for-profit dedicated to promoting the rule of law and strengthening civil society around the world, has supported the development of two new web applications to help the judiciaries of Albania and Georgia better allocate their resources, resulting in greater judicial efficiencies and improved access to justice. These new web-based systems, moreover, emphasize the use of data-driven management techniques and enable counterparts in both countries to independently update their resource allocations, as needed.
In Albania, the country’s High Judicial Council (HJC) asked EWMI to assist in the design of a new judicial map – i.e, to identify where throughout the country courthouses and judges should be located, based on demand and proximity to court-users. This process required the HJC to consider multiple complex questions, including: What impact will a new court district have on travel times and distances? Is the workload of a new court district high enough to sustain a reasonable minimum number of judges? How will changes impact the number of courtrooms per judge? To assist, EWMI helped establish key indicators and designed a software application enabling decision-makers to explore the implications and tradeoffs of various changes to the existing judicial map. The app presents a map of Albania on which the user can hypothetically move the location of courts and immediately see the resulting impact on all the most relevant indicators. In this way the impact of various judicial map scenarios can easily be assessed and compared.
In Georgia, EWMI assisted the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) establish a case weighting system to help it deploy judicial and staff resources where they are most needed. Case weighting requires that all court cases are grouped into a number of case groups and that assumptions are made about the length of time or how difficult it is to decide cases from each group. EWMI decided to apply a new path-breaking methodology, “smart case weighting,” which allows for the development of an accurate metric with considerably reduced time and expense. It does so mainly by allowing for uncertainty with regard to assumptions about weights, but its use relies upon complicated mathematical formulas. To facilitate the adoption of this new tool, a software application was designed enabling users to change assumptions made about case weights and groups, and to immediately see the impact on the recommended allocation of judicial staff among courts. The app also allows users to continuously update the results with new and more recent case data.
Both interactive web applications are low cost solutions, relying entirely on open source software (R and Shinyproxy) that require only a small server hosting fee. In spite of this, they allow for the same advanced features as is common in larger commercial apps, such as multiple users, advanced user control, data security, etc. The apps have so far proven to provide a powerful supplement to EWMI’s effort to support data-driven management in developing judiciaries.