FTR Installation Update

The Trial Court is installing a new digital recording system, For the Record (FTR), across the state as part of a multi-year project.

Courtrooms can be noisy places, often making it difficult to hear and be heard. And each courtroom is different: some have excellent acoustics, while others lag behind. FTR’s challenge has been to assess and design the appropriate sound amplification for each courtroom.

Justice, government, and law enforcement agencies in over 60 countries use FTR’s digital content systems for recording and data keeping. The FTR system records to a central server, and will also be integrated with MassCourts to track and locate recordings for individual cases. 

Courtroom assessments are used to develop custom solutions for each courtroom. As part of each assessment, the team observes how people navigate the courtroom: How they approach the bar and walk around the courtroom, including the ‘well,’ or the area inside the bar enclosure. FTR determines the existing conditions and plans on how to install data drops and electrical outlets, microphone access on each counsel table, clerk’s bench, witness box, public gallery rail, and podiums. The challenge is to find the right mix of acoustical support. 

Implementation. The multi-year installation of FTR in courthouses across the state continues on schedule. As of this month, FTR has conducted site assessments at 202 of 450 courtrooms.

Courthouses in Salem, Plymouth, Worcester and Woburn are now converted to the new system.

FTR at the Plymouth Trial Court went live in November, followed by the Ruane Judicial Center in Salem. Courtrooms in Worcester and Woburn were completed in early Feburary. Upon completion of those two sites, the cabling contractor moved to Suffolk High Rise, with an end-of-February projected go-live date.

Reviews of other potential locations continue. One courtroom in each location is typically converted first and used for training, with remaining courtrooms converted on weekends. The plan is to convert Superior Court courtrooms first, with other departmental courtrooms in courthouses with a Superior Court converted at the same time.

Next steps. FTR implementation continues at the Suffolk County Courthouse, followed by the Springfield Justice Center. A training schedule for Suffolk is under development. Next in line are the Superior Courts in Lawrence, Newburyport, and Lowell, as well as the Salem Probate and Family Court. All received initial site assessments.

The Trial Court Procurement Department maintains the master schedules for site evaluations and for installations. The ongoing effort is the result of coordination among local court leaders, the Departmental Administrative Offices, Facilities Management, Judiciary Information Services, and Security.

Interim support of JAVS systems. As of May 1, 2015, FTR assumed maintenance responsibility for existing JAVS, and older version FTR Gold recording systems. Issues can be referred to FTR at 844-331-1776 or mass.support@fortherecord.com. FTR recommends a short verification each morning to ensure that the recording system is activated to record for the day.

new courthouse microphone used by FTR
Microphone, check: FTR microphones are calibrated to amplify sounds at ear level. During sidebars, the court can engage the white noise button at the base of the mic to mask conversations from the jury box and public gallery.