Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk Go Google to Improve Service and Costs

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“The biggest draw for us to Go Google was the cost control that comes with cloud computing.”

What’s it like to Go Google with Onix? Mark Switalski, Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge, and Carmella Sabaugh, Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds, shared insights into the court’s deployment experience.

The Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk/Register of Deeds border Detroit to the northeast. Nestled on 31 miles of Lake St. Clair shoreline — and home to nearly 830,000 residents and growing, Macomb is Michigan’s third most populous county. Near Michigan’s two Big Ten universities, workforce training is also provided by Macomb County Community College, Michigan’s largest grantor of associate degrees with over 22,000 students.

The county boasts three regional hospitals, expansive parkland, nearly 100 miles of hike/bike trails and more than 1,900 retail establishments. Waterways hold 52,000 registered boats; toll-free expressways provide quick access to two international airports— and two international bridges to neighboring Canada. Brimming with engineers and skilled workers, the county accounts for 61 percent of Defense Department contracts awarded in Michigan.

Confronting More Work with Less Resources

Macomb County judges are among the most efficient at meeting State Court Administrative guidelines despite having the highest caseloads per circuit court judge across the state. Last year, the county was compelled to cut over $1.4 million from its budgets and downsize the workforce. It needed tools to meet the challenge of increasing caseloads and decreasing staff.

In total, 308 county court users joined 68 clerk staff on Google Workspace, providing.a way for judges and staff to access information anytime, anywhere, giving them the ability to find things quickly while keeping costs down. They can now do more despite the budget cuts.

Google Workspace gives employees great collaboration tools not previously experienced. County staff use Google Meet to communicate with clerks for quick answers while in court or on the phone. Jury staff use Google Docs to post juror web updates without web publishing software, even when working from home during bad weather. Staff can even send text messages from a computer to attorneys’ phones when their cases are being called. This is helpful when attorneys have cases in multiple courts — and if a judge wishes to speed along the docket.

The county has over 80,000 immigrants that speak 40 languages, one reason staff appreciates the option to use Google Translate in Gmail. Viewing email attachments in different formats is easy. Short videos and information about the county’s experience using Google Workspace have even been created.

Along with the enhanced productivity, the county team knows that when a disaster happens, their system will not go down. Since the data is in the cloud, it is protected and accessible from anywhere. After a rare tornado hit, briefly disrupting power and some network services, the clerk’s Google service remained accessible by cell phone and other networks until the network and email were restored.

Google Workspace Helps Control Costs

The biggest draw for going Google was the cost control that comes with cloud computing. For a fixed per-employee cost, the county gets Google Workspace and Google Vault for archiving and e-discovery. There is no additional cost for servers, backup, antivirus or anti-spam protection or disaster recovery. When new enhancements are available, there is no need for extra investment. Savings are also realized because Google Workspace has zero scheduled downtime. Maintenance is performed while the system is running. The IT Department staff that have become proficient with Google Workspace are making themselves more valuable to the taxpayers.

Macomb County is pleased with the decision to improve service and control technology costs by switching to Google Workspace. Instead of spending time and resources to administer computer hardware and software, the court team can better focus on administering justice.

Editor’s Note: Google Workspace is FedRAMP compliant. FedRAMP is a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

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