The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was supported by an integrated Information Technology system, much of which was specifically designed or adapted for use by the Inquiry. All of the applications in use were chosen to support the efficient conduct of the hearings, and to allow the various legal teams involved in the Inquiry to work as effectively as possible.
The main applications in use were:
Every piece of documentary evidence used by the Inquiry was uniquely numbered and scanned to ensure that the documents could be displayed quickly and easily on screens located in the various Inquiry premises in Londonderry. These paginated, scanned documents were held in a TrialProŽ database which allowed simple retrieval within seconds, in addition to the enlargement and annotation of the documents if required, using the touchscreen allocated to each barrister. This approach has been shown to reduce the length of document-intensive Inquiries by between 20% and 30%.
LiveNoteŽ is a Real Time Transcription application, which provided a 'live' transcript of the Inquiry proceedings to the laptop computers used by the various legal teams. The application, as well as receiving and displaying the transcript on the laptop computers, also allowed the legal teams to manipulate, annotate and highlight their individual copies, as well as providing sophisticated search and reporting facilities.
A virtual reality application was developed specifically for use by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in order to aid the orientation of witnesses when they gave their evidence. The application consisted of thousands of photographs and computer-generated images of Derry, both as it was when the Inquiry was being held and as it was in January 1972. The combination of this application and the touchscreen technology used in the hearing chamber allowed the user, whether witness or barrister, virtually to 'walk' the streets of Londonderry, and added considerable clarity to the witness testimonies. For further information about this application, click here
The TrialProŽ evidence display and the virtual reality application were distributed to a number of screens throughout the main hearing chamber, with the barrister or witness currently speaking having control of the applications via the use of touchscreen technology. In addition, TrialProŽ and virtual reality applications were also displayed, along with CCTV images of the current speaker in the hearing chamber, to a further 8 locations in the Guildhall and a further 4 locations throughout Derry. These included the Rialto Theatre, which was used for public viewing of the Inquiry.
A sophisticated sound system was used, in conjunction with the CCTV system described above, to ensure that current proceedings in the main chamber were distributed to all locations, both within the Guildhall and throughout the city. This sound system was also used to switch the cameras in the main chamber automatically to display the current speaker, and several induction loops were also installed in the Guildhall to ensure that hearing-impaired witnesses or members of the public could clearly hear proceedings.
All of these applications were integrated via the use of a high-performance data communications network, which ensured distribution of the applications to all locations in real time. This network covered most of the inner city, including the Guildhall, Calgach Centre, Rialto Theatre, Bloody Sunday Inquiry Press Office and the Bloody Sunday Trust building.