The International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2020) online conference took place during September 23 – 25, 2020 and hosted more than 300 participants from 55 countries, offering a unique opportunity to different sectors, such as academia, government, industry, and international organisations to meet online, present, listen and discuss the future of Digital Governance.
We – the legal interoperability team of the European Commission – participated in the event and were happy to see that special attention was given to Legal Informatics. This topic has been supported by several workshops, papers and invited sessions exploring the latest trends, standards, principles and technologies for the provision of legal informatics services.
These sessions gave opportunity to get to know several new tools and projects that could also help digital-ready policymaking by finding related legal documents and therefore promoting coherence; by identifying comparable cases to facilitate the drafting; or by measuring impacts of overarching goals.
However, in all related session discussions tended to come back a core issue:
Do we need interoperability standards for legal texts?
Monica Palmirani, from the University of Bologna, had a very clear view on that. As one of the inventors of Akoma Ntoso / “LegalDocML” – a legal standard used in the UN as well as among EU institutions –, she advocated that the question of a common legal ontology should be tackled before starting building LegalTech tools.
Participants agreed that the use of the same semantic model promotes the interoperability of future technological tools, as it ensures that legal texts are presented in a uniform way. This, in turn, will result in more efficient processing of legal texts, via metadata tagging and context provision, as well as will facilitate the comparison of legal texts, the creation of visualisations out of legal text information, etc.
There seemed to be a common vision that interoperability could be instilled “by design” through performing the legal drafting also in an XML representation, from the beginning.
Another recurring topic of debate was the ManyLaws project, which introduces and follows a Unified Metadata Schema, combining the Data Catalogue Vocabulary (DCAT), the European legislation Identifier (ELI) and the Akoma Ntoso (AKN) metadata standards.
In a more generic context, a series of interoperability assessment tools and methodologies, presented during the conference, are also of particular interest for our community.
We remain particularly interested and will follow closely the relevant advancements, as part of the digital transformation capabilities, means and skills that promote better policymaking.
Visit the conference website here for more details.
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