Being located in the most populous state in Brazil, The Public Defender’s Office of the State of São Paulo concentrates the largest number of assistance in the country.
With the mission of providing free legal advice, human rights promotion, and defense at all levels: judicial, extrajudicial, collective, and individual, this public juridical service is available to low-income citizens. There are numerous types of cases in which citizens may seek assistance, some examples include domestic violence against women under the "Maria da Penha Law," child support, et al.
Digital transformation in the face of adversity
The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated a digital transformation that has been underway for decades. Regardless of how the crisis and its aftermath unfold, there is no doubt that digital technologies will continue to transform the way we live and work.
Before the pandemic, citizens physically visited DPESP for legal assistance. The assistance was prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis, without the possibility of pre-booking. Meanwhile, the DPESP would begin the sorting processing. In many cases, citizens needed to go back to their homes to organize the required documentation for further legal proceedings. The assistance was only able to move forward when the citizens returned to DPESP in person for a second time (or third, fourth and so on), bringing all the needed documentation.
However, after the onset of the pandemic, the state of São Paulo went into an official lockdown. This forced the DPESP to shut down their physical facilities and embrace digital technology to run their operations. It became challenging to maintain the number of assists in this new scenario. There was no standardized sorting process, which led to the risk of critical cases not being delivered judicial solutions.
As many others public organizations in Latin America, at the time, the DPESP were not running their operations digitally, nor were there any plans to do so in the near future. Erik Arnesen stated that going remote was farsighted but they had to do whatever it took to ensure services continuity. Being a legal organization handling sensitive citizen information, not only did they have to go about this transformation very quickly but they also had the additional challenge of doing so while ensuring complete data privacy and compliance.
The IT team at DPESP started looking for a secure communication platform that would facilitate the seamless exchange of information, messages, and files with the citizens.
“Because our services were so essential for citizens, we simply couldn’t stop it. At the same time, we had to keep our doors closed. We looked for a solution that would allow us to exchange messages, information, data and files with citizens in a secure and familiar manner. That's when we deployed Rocket.Chat and started a proof of concept.”
A secure, on-premise solution to supercharge omnichannel support for millions of citizens
Secure collaboration has never been more crucial to the public defender’s office. Sharing sensitive information with citizens called for the need of a platform such as Rocket.Chat with robust back-end security and customization options to cater to an organization’s unique needs. In order to get up and running as soon as possible, Arnesen and his team started their digital services using the free version of Rocket.Chat. It allowed them to quickly reopen their services, learn in real-time whether or not this was a viable solution by getting internal and external feedback as well as test out integrations between Rocket.Chat and their internal systems thus ensuring the solution was fit for scale.
Not only did they get positive feedback but they also quickly found themselves servicing around 40,000 citizens per month. Rocket.Chat allowed Arnesen’s team to expand without facing technical obstacles regarding availability and platform performance, by enabling rapid, frequent, and reliable delivery of large number of assistance sessions.
Arnesen also required a solution for the hundreds of public defenders and 66 units in 43 cities managed by the organization. Since sensitive data was being handled every day, security and privacy were at the forefront of going digital. With its advanced security options, open-source code and a complete citizen engagement platform, Rocket.Chat was the best solution that fit the bill.
Initially, Rocket.Chat was implemented as a live chat solution via a website browser seamless to the citizens. This chatbot, integrated with the Rocket.Chat application, would ask initial questions to help curate the cases and direct them to the agents (law trainees) who provide first-level support by requesting documents and additional information about the issue. After entering this information in the system, they route it to the supervisors (public defenders), who validate the information and forward it through Rocket.Chat’s secure and private environment to proceed with the filing of suit.
After seeing the positive feedback from their teams and clients, the IT team from the Public Defender’s Office started building more integrations between Rocket.Chat and their internal systems to improve the speed that information was exchanged to and from their CRM, thereby paving the way for new channels of contact. One such significant integration is WhatsApp.
9 out of 10 citizens in Brazil have WhatsApp installed on their mobile devices. This was a great advantage, as the need to install a new application and the need for non-optimized internet bandwidth consumption could be a barrier to many citizens. Since citizens were already familiar with WhatsApp, managing conversations, and exchanging information and files became a walk in the park with the Rocket.Chat - WhatsApp integration. The DPESP could harness the power of real-time conversations with citizens, without compromising data security. Providing services over WhatsApp has expedited the whole process of delivering services, owing to the familiarity of using WhatsApp to communicate and collaborate. DPESP now has 3,000 omnichannel agents and is continuing to expand citizen support channels with the implementation of WhatsApp.
1M+ citizens digitally assisted, 37M+ messages securely exchanged and accelerated judicial services
Thanks to Rocket.Chat integration, The Public Defender’s Office of the State of São Paulo (DPESP) now has a solid, secure and efficient digital presence, with thousands of lives positively impacted. Despite reopening its physical offices, the organization keeps receiving most of its demands online. Rocket.Chat has fundamentally changed the way in which essential services are delivered.
The DPESP embraced digitization early on and chose Rocket.Chat to securely deliver services through channels where citizens are most comfortable. After going digital, the public defender’s office has assisted over 1M citizens. Rocket.Chat makes collaboration seamless which empowered the DPESP to exchange more than 50M messages securely in a short span of time.
Arnesen noticed how the entire juridical assistance became faster and more efficient. Overall, the quality of their support services has skyrocketed.
“In 2 months of using Rocket.Chat, we understood how efficient it was, so we wanted to scale with quality and stability. The team at Rocket.Chat understood how important it was for us to grow together. They were really sensible in dealing with us and our users who are mostly economically vulnerable people, and victims who fight for their rights. Today, we attend 40,000 citizens per month using Rocket.Chat.”