Transcription, translation and the death of distance

     The delivery of municipal services is a daunting task. Demands for service are increasing. Municipalities are also subject to a variety of state and federal mandates. These often require cities to provide more services with the same or fewer...

     According to Lisa Shupe, a criminal records technician with Washington's Klickitat County Sheriffs Office, outsourcing is an efficient way to expedite transcription.


     Internet outsourcing also requires law enforcement agencies to make adjustments that permit new routines to become standard practice. An organization's history of incorporating new technologies can represent the agency's will to adopt future innovation.

     Of course, while some employees embrace the changes that technology inevitably brings, others resist it. Often, their resistance is a reflection of the misunderstanding of how the new change will be implemented and what affect it may have.

     For example, staff members intuitively know that innovation means they will have to learn new skills. Others are resistant to Web-based technologies because they are not aware of how their peers in other agencies are using similar innovations to their own advantage.

     Fear of potential job loss is another concern. However, outsourcing's efficiency gains do not come at the expense of hired employees. In her agency, McCart assures that, "Existing staff already had plenty to do. No jobs were lost."

     And, according to Montgomery, her department's existing transcribers used to be detectives and support staff. "After outsourcing, they remained in their current positions and no one lost their job," she adds.

     The same held true in the Klickitat Country Sheriffs Office. "Outsourcing took pressure off our existing employees [and] … enabled them to focus on their real jobs," says Shupe.

Viewing innovation differently

     Setting its demonstrable benefits to one side, personal attitudes toward technological innovation vary. Gender and age can also play a role in an employee's perception of the positive and negative ramifications of new workplace technology.

     For example, some studies suggest males have a positive attitude toward computers regardless of their level of familiarity. Conversely, female outlooks become more positive as they become more familiar. Likewise, older adults are less likely than their younger peers to use a computer unless there is a perceived need to do so. They do not respond as well to change unless such change is gradual over time.

     Contrary to conventional wisdom, Christiansen sees no relationship between age and the successful adoption of new technologies. "In fact, our detectives and investigators, the people using Web-based outsourcing, tend to be older than our patrol officers," he says.

     Still, an individual's attitude toward new technology can be influenced by their peers. And, past experience can play a dominant role in the formation of their attitude toward change. An individual's perception of innovative technology can affect their willingness to adopt it.

     Historically, and to their detriment, managers and vendors have tended to focus on the benefits of new technology without addressing its possible negative consequences for those it affects. Conversely, successful vendors of transcription and translation outsourcing recognize that higher adoption rates occur when employees are directly involved in the nuances of the adoption process.

Piecing the puzzle together

     Another obstacle to the broad-based adoption of proven technical innovation is the fragmentation of local law enforcement agencies. Nationwide, nearly a million police officers and support staff are divided among several thousand independent agencies. Most of these agencies employ fewer than two dozen officers, yet they investigate nearly all crimes nationwide.

     This fragmentation is said to reflect a general societal belief that independent control of local law enforcement is more important than creating centralized standards that risk the unintended creation of a national police force. This makes law enforcement a difficult market to reach, a fact that tends to inhibit the adoption of Web-based outsourcing.

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