A quarterly electronic bulletin from the Centre for Innovation in Parliament
Issue 3, 30 September 2019
Welcome to the third edition of the Innovation Tracker, which includes examples from the parliaments of Argentina, Greece, Jordan and Myanmar, and updates from the Centre’s hubs.
We are posting examples of innovation in parliament on Twitter using the hashtags #innovation #parliament. Please join us in using these hashtags, or send us good examples that we can share!
Do you have an example of innovative parliamentary working methods to share in the Innovation Tracker? Tell us about it via this online form or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Innovation in parliamentary working methods
Hellenic parliament: Making past parliamentary data usable through crowdsourcing
In November 2017, researchers at the Scientific Service of the Hellenic Parliament launched an innovative crowdsourcing platform: the Hellenic Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Team. The platform is the first scientific crowdsourcing initiative dedicated exclusively to converting parliamentary oversight data from paper-based or non-processable digital sources into open data formats so that it can be studied. Dr. Fotis Fitsilis, who heads up the initiative and presented the platform at the IFLA pre-conference in August, agreed to answer some questions to provide a more in-depth understanding of the Hellenic OCR Team. Read more.
Until January 2019 the Jordanian House of Representatives faced growing challenges to efficient management of its plenary proceedings due to the outdated technologies in its chamber hall. There were many of the issues commonly seen in other parliaments, such as the labour- and cost-intensive distribution of session papers prior to and again during sittings (because MPs forget to bring their papers), regular technical glitches with attendance and vote counting machines, plus the ensuing unrest among members. One of the biggest challenges was maintaining the public image of the House, with its limited online live-streaming capability, against a backdrop of increasing social media demand from citizens.
By introducing a modern plenary management and broadcasting system in just 45 days, the House of Representatives has addressed many of these challenges. Read more.
The Parliament of Myanmar introduced its first intranet with the intention of moving to an e-Parliament system in May 2019 – the result of five years of work that saw it transition from an entirely paper-based environment to an emerging digital environment. The intranet now being used by members of parliament and staff marks the achievement of a shift in working culture aimed at more efficient information management and sharing across the houses of parliament: Amyotha (House of Nationalities), Pyithu (House of Representatives) and Pyidaungsu (joint Parliament). It also underlines the increased internal ICT capability which the Parliament has been building from the ground up in recent years, setting a national standard. Read more.
Parliamentary action on technology trends
Between 20 May and 12 September 2019, the Directorio Legislativo – an Argentinian organization that promotes parliamentary transparency and citizen participation – ran the innovative #HolaCongreso! (Hello Congress!) campaign. Over 400 volunteers from all across Argentina, including students from 44 different academic disciplines, enrolled to work with members of parliament and senators to promote the adoption of good transparency practices. Their work complements that of a wider alliance, made up of legislators, journalists, academics and civil society representatives, that aims to implement a Legislative Transparency Roadmap. Read more.
News from the Centre for Innovation in Parliament
Updates from the Centre’s regional and thematic hubs, which bring together parliaments to work on issues of common interest.
Transparency Hub – The Next Generation
Host: Israeli Knesset
The host of this hub, the Knesset of Israel, and the IPU signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2019, and are working towards activating the hub with further activities to be announced. The hub envisages developing, supporting, and coordinating an inter-parliamentary dialogue focused on the intersection of innovation and transparency. Specific objectives include sharing best practices and collaboratively addressing challenges faced by parliaments worldwide related to subjects such as: transparency and accountability; public participation, engagement, and involvement in parliament’s work; and, new technologies and innovative practices which enhance transparency in parliaments.
IT Governance Hub
Host: European Parliament
The IT Governance Hub hosted by the European Parliament is continuing to register new participants on its online platform: 88 individual accesses have been granted for staff belonging to 48 organizations, including recently the Parliaments of Angola and Moldova. Following several requests, the content of the documents included in the platform is now also available in French, Portuguese and Spanishand. Translation was done using the automatic translation engines of the eTranslation service provided by the European Commission. In addition, on top of self-development through the various paths proposed, the platform can be used to support five different types of events: presentations, peer-to-peer support, support to a regional hub, thematic exchange, and train the trainers. A new section has been introduced to list the events that have been performed / planned.
Finally, from 11 to 12 July 2019, the representative of the IT Governance Hub took part in the kick-off of the INTER PARES project in Brussels (hosted by the European Parliament). Following discussions, it was agreed in the context of the project that the IT Governance Hub will be invited where possible to introduce the development of the IT governance capacity during peer-to-peer support with selected parliaments from partner countries.
Open Data Hub
Host: Brazilian Chamber of Deputies
The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies as hub host is continuing with the development of the proof of concept (POC) which aims to provide a search web interface that selected users will be able to access and test how the real world application will work. Some parliaments have made contributions which are being considered in the POC. Through this interface, it will be possible to query the laws from selected countries (Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Israel, and South Africa) and the European Parliament, which will provide a preview of how the interface will benefit parliaments (MPs, advisors, consultants, etc.) and citizens. During the Legislative Research Conference in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies (16-17 September), Patricia Almeida presented the Open Data Hub. Its audience was composed by master-degree students, by the Chamber of Deputies, Senate and State legislatures staff.
During the Legislative Research Conference in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies (16-17 September), Patricia Almeida presented the Open Data Hub. Its audience was composed by master-degree students, by the Chamber of Deputies, Senate and State legislatures staff.
Host: Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago
The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago as host, has reached out to regional parliaments, specifically at the ICT managers’ level to propose their participation and commencement of knowledge sharing activity on the CIP Yammer platform. The Parliaments of Guyana and Suriname have responded positively. Others are evaluating this request. To strengthen further engagement a joint IPU-Trinidad and Tobago Parliament invitation is being prepared aimed at Clerks and SGs of the Caribbean parliaments.
East African Hub
Host: Parliament of Kenya
The Parliament of Kenya has established its regional office space to coordinate the East African Hub activities. As part of this, it is also trialling voice-over & video IP connection solutions, to allow for cost effective communication between hub members. The hub is preparing to convene the Secretaries-General of parliaments at the upcoming IPU Assembly in Belgrade, to discuss among others the envisaged First East African Hub Regional Meeting. On promoting innovations, the Parliament of Kenya shared with others information and material about its aParlKenya app for paperless proceedings. Finally, the hub provided feedback on the status of social media use to CIP for its preparation of the Social Media Guide.
Latin American Hub
Host: Chamber of Deputies of Chile
The implementation of the Latin American Hub portal is in its final stage. The portal's objective is to have a shared networking space that mainly allows Latin American parliaments to access technological solutions and good practices as a reference, or to adopt technological solutions implemented in other parliaments. This stage includes the aggregation and publication of contents, and the creation of user profiles for the member parliaments so that each can publish and share solutions and technological experiences. In addition, this portal will keep a record of "e-Parlament updates" to provide indicators over time about the state of technological modernization across the board. It is expected that by mid-November this portal will be available, which will be a contribution by and for regional parliaments.
Host: Parliament of New Zealand
The Parliament of New Zealand as host continues to build membership and resources in the hub’s Yammer space. A Citizens Engagement and Public Outreach training for Pacific Parliaments will be held in association with UNDP in Samoa in October. The New Zealand Parliament will provide a resource person and promote the regional hub for education, engagement and ICT officers.
Southern African Hub
Host: National Assembly of Zambia
The ICT departments of hub parliaments have begun populating an ICT experts database, providing data on available parliamentary experts and relevant technical disciplines. Responding to a request received from the Parliament of Botswana to provide assistance with the review of its ICT Strategic Masterplan, the hub has begun preparations for sending a technical mission, consisting of experts from the Parliaments of Mauritius and Zambia, the UN Economic Commision for Africa, and the IPU. In addition the SADC Parliamentary Forum has requested the hub to provide assistance in the development and implementation of its ICT strategy. At the upcoming IPU Assembly in Belgrade the hub shall convene its steering committee consisting of SGs and Clerks.