Online Meetings with Secure Digital Decision-making


Policy areas

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Contact person: Gerhard Embacher-Köhle

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to both public and private sector organisations. It has also made it much more difficult to hold decision-making sessions. Committee and municipal council meetings, general meetings in associations or supervisory boards have frequently been cancelled or postponed due to the corona crisis. This, however, has shown the need for digital meeting solutions, which had not been sufficiently satisfied by conventional conference tools.

In light of these challenges, a network of partners formed a project team in mid-2020 to address these novel requirements and create an innovative solution for conducting legally compliant online meetings. Together with Lower Austria’s business agency ecoplus, the Austrian Federal Computing Centre has developed a vision. Apart from the contracting authority ecoplus, DE ARNOLDI GmbH has contributed to the project as a cooperating and co-financing partner. Aschauer IT & Business GmbH represents the technical implementation partner for the system and the videoconferencing facility has been provided by eyeson GmbH. Together, the participating parties have created a draft for a proof of concept (PoC) based on the initial vision for holding digital decision-making sessions.

Our digital solution allows for embedding conventional video conferencing functionality into a web application and enables legally compliant electronic voting, considering an agenda and integrated documents. All artefacts and voting results are stored in an automatically generated log that is legally compliant and tamper-proof. The solution is available in the form of a PoC, which already contains the basic functionalities, is fully functional and was operationally deployed in municipalities and associations from January to March 2021. A blockchain solution provides the technical basis for ensuring legal compliance and tamper protection.

Apart from functional extension, there may also be future potential to expand the scope of application along several dimensions, either to other administrative levels or other legal forms or with regards to other meeting formats (committee meetings, steering committees, board meetings, etc.).

The system can be transferred across all levels of public administration as well as businesses and civil organisations; several innovation projects have been initiated based on this. One will integrate eIDAS-compliant identification and authentication for meeting participants.

Also, another promising scenario of using the technical aspects is currently being designed: enabling citizens in virtually communicating and interacting with public bodies – including secure and automated documentation of results, embedded in usual governmental processes.

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