E-discovery is not the one-trick pony it used to be. Traditionally, it’s found its home amongst the legal world, but the proven efficacy of this multifaceted solution shines in a host of diversified arenas. Case in point, Information Requests. Let’s take a look at how proficiently this pony performs to fulfill State and Federal FOIA initiatives. 

The Problem to Solve: 

State and Federal agencies funded by taxpayer dollars are compelled to be transparent about their activities, wherever possible without exposing personal or private / privileged information. Citizens can request information under various freedom of information statutes or open record acts. Unlike discovery in court cases, deadlines for production of responsive documents are truncated, so time and accuracy are of the essence.

Naturally, some agencies will receive more information requests than others. State and federal funding is lean, and provider agencies need a way to dig through mountains of information, redact or remove privileged or sensitive personal information and ensure the fulfilled request is actually responsive to the citizen or alternate agencies request. 

The Solution:

It just so happens that the tools developed for litigation discovery are highly synergistic and sympathetic to this problem, though widely undiscovered by many agencies as a potential solution. From a high level, our solutions naturally provide: 

  • PII (Personally identifiable information, CCPA/CPRA/GDPR) Identification and Redaction
  • Machine Learning models that help ‘find more like this,’ saving critical review time
  • Keyword search with boolean and proximity modifiers
  • Date, author and content type sorting
  • Collaborative initiatives amongst multiple team members
  • The ability to create searchable PDF files to respond to the requestor
  • High security, encryption and the ability to implement our tools and provision them to anyone in the world, regardless of logistical challenges 

Advanced tools driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning help to identify responsive and protected information, allowing teams to respond appropriately to information requests that are received. Not to mention, the solution is supported by a world class team of confidential data management specialists. All content is stored on US soil and protected by military grade restful and transitory encryption. 

How it’s Packaged and Priced:

Platinum provides an all-inclusive solution we call ‘Cost Confidence.’ In this model, the agency would pay a flat monthly fee for an allotment of storage space in our hosted environment. Within this space, multiple projects or cases can be created to ingest, process and review the documents subject to the request. 

Because we automatically adjust the size of the blocks needed month to month, applying automatic savings wherever possible for the customer, confidence is the cornerstone of this pricing model. And, as expected, any cost increase is approved by the customer agency before cost is incurred. 

Solution Model: County of Sonoma California. 

The County of Sonoma has been ravaged by wildfires for years now. Information requests may come from anywhere: from concerned citizens, from agencies like NIST, NASA or the National Weather Service to companies such as insurance, construction, news outlets or others with vested interest.

The County of Sonoma needed something to help fulfill these requests with greater accuracy, and to help redact personal information from produced records. We performed a proof of concept and closed business in late 2020. Since then, we’ve hosted hundreds of individual records requests with outstanding accuracy. The workflow looks something like this: 

  1. An information request is made in writing, in accordance with FOIA standards. 
  2. The IT team in Sonoma County is served the request. The team works to isolate potentially responsive documents by date with Office 365 and input from the legal and operations / knowledge management staff. 
  3. Documents collected by IT are delivered to the information request management team. 
  4. Documents are submitted to Platinum. 
  5. Documents are processed, text and metadata are extracted and the records are placed in a secure document repository. 
  6. Documents are indexed to ensure searchability. Artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning models identify relationships between information ingested and the system works to identify any relevant PII found in the collection. 
  7. The review team at Sonoma County isolates responsive documents and quality controls redaction of privileged / confidential information.
  8. The team at Sonoma County notify Platinum that an isolated set of cleaned, responsive documents are ready to produce. 
  9. Platinum’s team creates searchable PDF files for production, which effectively removes potentially privileged / protected metadata and ensures applied redactions are permanent, providing a perfect production medium for this kind of content.  

Bottom Line: 

Any locality with any substantial newsworthy events on the ground would be prime for this solution, but truthfully anyone could use this, even if they don’t have a ton of information requests. As the volume grows, additional blocks can be added, increasing available volume for projects and adding additional users for the review initiative. As larger cases decommission, smaller blocks can be utilized, effectively controlling cost for the organization. We feel that the solution is priced right, requires no IT or hardware / infrastructure / storage commitment to implement, and most cases can be ready to review within 24 hours. 

E-discovery takes what could be a cumbrous detour on the “information highway” and turns it into a walk in the park; Platinum’s ‘Cost Confidence’ solution fits government budgetary requirements and includes everything an information request initiative could need. Learn more about how this kind of solution could add efficiency to your organization today.