The State Courts of Singapore and A*STAR’s (Agency for
Science, Technology and Research) Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) are developing
a Speech Transcription System (STS) for use in the Courts, so that oral
evidence and delivery presented in court proceedings can be instantly
transcribed in real time.
The STS recognises human voice and transcribes the speech
into text in real time. This real-time transcription service will be available
for the parties involved in court proceedings, without the use of court
reporters or transcribers.
The project will be carried out in two phases. The first
phase is the Proof of Concept which is expected to be completed by early 2019.
The second phase will be the full implementation of a speech transcription
system in all the courtrooms in the State Courts Towers which will be in
operation in 2020.
The State Courts handle about 99 per cent of the criminal
cases in Singapore. Currently, all criminal court proceedings, except mention
cases, are digitally recorded and the transcription process is done by an
external service provider, which takes about seven days. In order to have
immediate access to transcripts, parties have to engage private vendors that
provide court reporting and real-time transcription services. With the
introduction of the STS, the State Courts’ court reporting services will
include real-time transcription.
The STS will provide instant access to the recorded evidence
to all participants as the transcripts produced can be displayed on individual
computer monitors in the courtrooms simultaneously. With this, the Judge and
parties to the case, including prosecutors and defence counsel in criminal
hearings, would be able to review the oral testimonies and evidence presented
in Court immediately.
This is expected to allow for more effective participation
by the parties, especially the party that is questioning the witness on the
Real-time transcription is also useful when the witness
cannot be heard clearly and when the speaker gives unclear or inconsistent
evidence. When this is detected by the STS, the speakers can be prompted to
speak more clearly. Clarification can also be sought immediately by using the
system’s search function to locate specific parts of the evidence. In other
words, the introduction of the STS will assist the parties to conduct their
criminal cases in a more effective and expeditious manner.
Justice See Kee Oon, Presiding Judge of the State Courts,
said, “The State Courts are constantly improving our services to provide an
effective justice system. The Speech Transcription System is indeed another
innovation harnessing technology to offer real-time oral evidence which will
benefit all parties to court proceedings.”
“This transcription system is a great example of how
technology can be used to improve productivity by automating a traditionally
labour intensive process. This allows court officers to work more efficiently
and effectively. The technology can also be used to improve productivity not
just for court staff, but also for communicators, archivists and other such
professions,” said Professor Dim-Lee Kwong, Executive Director of A*STAR’s I²R.