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Cisco offers video-conferencing for legislative operations

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With all kinds of organisations accelerating the adoption of digital services and solutions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisco has rolled out video-based solutions for legislative and judicial operations.

The US-based networking solutions giant announced the service offerings at the Cisco Partner Summit Digital, which, for the first time, is taking place in digital form.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local and national government institutions were forced to pivot to deliver services and continue the business of governing, remotely.

As a result, Cisco has unveiled Webex Legislate and Connected Justice to enable judicial services and legislative bodies worldwide to continue their critical functions.

Webex Legislate is a cloud-based platform that extends Webex’s built-in security and privacy capabilities, according to the company.

Webex is Cisco’s enterprise solution for video-conferencing, online meetings, screen share and webinars.

Webex Legislatewas funded and co-developed by Cisco’s country digital acceleration programme, in partnership with Irish systems integrator and Cisco partner, Davra.

Cisco says the new platformprovides an immersive experience to give legislators the same capabilities as on the chamber or parliamentary floor, while attending sessions from their regions and remaining close to the citizens they represent.

Furthermore, it allows legislatures the ability to debate and vote on legislation in accordance with their rules, procedures and norms via customised voting features, enables sidebar rooms that mimic the conversations legislators have in caucus or on the floor, and offers simultaneous interpretation and closed captioning.

According to Cisco, Connected Justice is the first standards-based video solution to deliver connected professional services to courtrooms, correctional facilities and community corrections.

“COVID-19 made delivering critical services without physical contact essential. Cisco partners Cloverhound and TRACKtech have customised connected solutions for partners to be able to order that to align to the three pillars of justice: courts, corrections and community supervision. This solution enhances collaboration across agencies, maintains daily operations and can help reduce recidivism.”

Matthew Dietz, county director of IT in Elkhart, Indiana, US, adds: “The beauty of Cisco’s courtroom technology, using Webex and the underlying secure infrastructure, is that the public now sees virtual courtrooms as a way to keep the wheels of justice turning, not only during COVID-19, but beyond.”

In SA, the Department of Justice and Correctional Services in July announced its intention to augment its IT and modernisation budget from R529 million to R663 million.

At the time, the department’s minister said the impetus on modernisation, digitisation as well as business continuity challenges during the COVID-19 period necessitated the revision of the budget.

“COVID-19 has laid bare missed opportunities over the past couple of years to modernise our justice system in order to have a direct bearing on how people, particularly of working class communities, can access the system,” explained minister Ronald Lamola.

The South African judicial system reached a milestone in July by undertaking its first fully paperless case trial simulation. All parties in court were able to use their own laptops and/or mobile tablets to access and refer to digital versions of case materials.

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