Since the coronavirus first started spreading in spring 2020, the world has taken a massive leap towards working remotely. Many private companies quickly reorganized their workplaces and moved the employees from offices to homes, and many still mostly keep working from home. However, at the national level, it was necessary to amend the legislation before the work could be reorganized. Therefore the Estonian Parliament did not get to try out the remote format for parliamentary sessions. 17th of December, 2020 was an important day for E-stonia known for digital success stories. It was the day when the session that also included voting was held simultaneously from the hall and the safety from the homes of the parliament members.
Previously it was only possible to participate in the Riigikogu session physically while being present in the hall. Also, the public broadcast has a slight one-minute delay too. Now the members can participate fully remotely and take part in all the work processes online from their home or any other place with a good internet connection.
What activities are included in the e-Plenary sessions?
The functionality of the on-site system is fully and safely supported in the new remote web application. It allows the sessions to be held 100% online. Among other things, the following is supported:
- Attendance check
- Attendance view by parties
- Speeches and queue management
- Questions and queue management
- Opportunity to raise procedural issues
- Public voting with delegate’s name
- Secret voting with the public result
- Session breaks
- Meeting agenda
It is possible to download all the documents related to the agenda straight from the system as an upgrade. The session is now also broadcasted without any delay. The last point, in-time session monitoring, is a handy function again for the members of the parliament who are physically present for the session in the Riigikogu building. For example, it allows them to answer the press requests during long sessions outside of the hall and still be always aware of what is going on in the hall each moment. This will guarantee that they will be present back in the room to ask the questions or check the queue's length until the members' own speech.
A bonus is that the new system has built-in subtitles; the system automatically compiles an automatic transcript and the minutes of the session.
Modern technology that is easy to use
The software is built thinking about user experience. It has a neat responsive interface usable on all screens. For smooth workflow, only the components currently needed are actively visible on the screen, keeping the rest of the functionality running in the background.
Ahto Saks, Administrative Director at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu is happy with the new system -"The new software solution for Riigikogu e-Plenary sessions created by Ektaco is fully based on our needs and is unique in the world."
The uniqueness of the system is illustrated by the fact, that although only one remote session has been held so far, Ektaco has already received several inquires about the system from all over the world.
Ektaco is an Estonian company that offers functional business analytics and control systems built from scratch for already 30 years. The most extensive products in the portfolio are the point of sales system CompuCash and work time management system CompuAccess. Ektaco has also won the public tenders for voting systems for nearly 20 years. The integrated session management systems built by Ektaco are in use in Tallinn Council and Estonian Parliament.