The Record - Issue 20: Spring 2021

122 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om V I EWPO I NT Virtual democracy J ØRG EN SOL B E RG : DE C I S I ONS New solutions for Microsoft Teams are enabling local and state councils to run virtual meetings more efficiently and improve the democratic process I n the wake of the pandemic, organisations around the world have re-evaluated their busi- ness practices, particularly in relation to remote and hybrid working. While many tasks can be carried out as usual, one thing that has changed fundamentally is the meeting environment. Technology companies like Microsoft have facilitated straightforward remote meetings between colleagues via their online platforms, such as Teams, but local and state governments need more. Public meetings have regulatory guidelines for how they should be run. As such, these bodies need help to implement processes that enable efficient engagement with each other and the communities they serve, particularly due to their level of formality and high number of participants. Decisions for Microsoft Teams increases efficiency by automating the full meeting lifecycle, including the distribution of meeting materials, secure vot- ing, generating meeting minutes and supporting electronic signatures, creating a truly paperless environment for committees and councils. When mirroring in-person meetings in the virtual realm, local and state governments rely on Decisions’ Speak Now and Vote Now to run meetings efficiently and keep policy-making open and available. Formal voting on vari- ous topics is an important element of public meetings. Vote Now is the only voting solution that allows council and committee members to securely cast and record their vote directly from Microsoft Teams. Based on feedback from various councils, Vote Now has been optimised for ease of use in a virtual setting, while still preserving the security and trust of the voting results. The procedure for accepting requests to speak from elected officials requires deliberate coor- dination and is often outlined in the laws set forth by that governing body. Speak Now from Decisions brings an orderly process to issuing and granting permissions to speak during vir- tual meetings. The clerk or meeting organiser can issue a speaker list for which elected officials can virtually raise their hand to join, request to speak out of turn in response to someone else or ask for a recess. This ensures meeting partic- ipants are heard and prevents multiple speakers from talking over one another. Technology is an enabler for so much growth and innovation in today’s world. We are using it to empower and ensure public meetings are run efficiently, which means a better demo- cratic process for the communities that local councils represent. Jørgen Solberg is the founder and CEO of Decisions “We are using technology to empower and enable efficiently run meetings, whether they are physical, virtual or hybrid”