By: Jeff Dreiling

The time is quickly approaching that demands we rethink the way we conduct discovery once again. The changes are much more subtle this time versus the last (when we went from paper to digital discovery), but nevertheless they are coming, and now is the time to start preparing for it.

The need to change the way we look at discovery will be driven by two major changes in technology.

Major Change #1: The 5G Network

The first change is the advent and widespread distribution of the 5G network. By creating a nationwide high-speed and mobile data network, there will essentially be a Google Fiber connection just floating through the airwaves around most American cities. Verizon Wireless alone will have active 5G in the top 60 U.S. markets by January. This will allow constant high-speed connectivity throughout most of our country, something previously reserved for only our home or work Wi-Fi networks.

Major Change #2: The Internet of Things

The second change is the internet of things or IOT. The IOT is the quickly exploding world of internet connected devices. We have them all over our homes and offices, things like:

  • Smart TVs
  • Smart watches
  • Smart assistants
  • Smart cars
  • Smart refrigerators
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Smart sprinkler systems
  • And the list goes on

Most of us have a growing list of these smart devices around our homes and offices already. Soon, these devices will be able to send and receive updates in real-time, no matter their location. By leveraging the 5G connectivity, our smart devices will begin to travel with us and create an objective record of most things in our daily life.

These two emerging technologies combine to create a discovery opportunity for attorneys on both sides of a case.

What type of IOT data is/will be available and how do I use that data to help win more cases? Depending on your practice and your clientele, the answers will vary. The first step in preparing for the future is to consider the type of data points that are starting to become available and to find a way to use that data to help prove your case.

Let’s take, for example, the case of an automobile accident.

Driver A runs a red light and smashes into crossing traffic, causing injury to Driver B.

If you are the attorney representing Driver B:

  • Would it be helpful to line up the exact activity occurring on the cell phone of Driver A at the precise time the vehicle data shows the accident occurring?
  • How about the 10 seconds leading up to the accident?
  • Beyond that, you may also be interested in the speed the vehicle was traveling, when the breaks were applied and the volume of the entertainment system.

If you are representing Driver A:

  • Would you like the ability to confirm that your client actually ran the red light and to see all of the same vehicle and cell phone data of Driver B?

By correctly leveraging available data sources, you can possibly already do all of these things.

Each of your cases has a data lake.

Soon, the only limitation to the data you consider in a matter will be your imagination and the know-how and technology to aggregate all of the disparate data sources.

In fact, there’s a name for the data we collect from all of these devices and sources: a data lake. Whether you know it or not, each of your cases has a data lake. The sources may have been only hard copy documents, emails and text messages a few years ago. Now the lake is quickly growing wider and deeper to include:

  • Social media data
  • Messenger apps
  • Business tools
  • Security camera footage
  • Voice messages
  • Key card data
  • Geo location information
  • The list goes on and on

The problem is how do we review all of the data contained in this lake?

The short answer is: “kind of patchwork”, depending on the software platforms you have available to you. The pace of innovation with data sources is seemingly outpacing our traditional web review platform’s ability to present these various sources of data seamlessly. Today, the task of reviewing these various sources of data calls for quite a bit of manual work and software work arounds.

Have no fear, the legal technology sector is starting to introduce solutions to this problem, and they are powerful. Next month we will take a deeper dive into what technology is on the way to help us review all of this data and to use it to help build and prove our cases.

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