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Developers help Greece merge amendments into laws

Summer of code project

Published on: 29/10/2018 Last update: 04/04/2019 News Archived

This summer, computer science students in Greece contributed code that could help the Greek government automate the process of keeping the country’s laws up to date. The 3GM project is one of ten Google Summer of Code (GSOC) projects supported by the Greek Free and Open Source Software Society (GFOSS). Developers worked on 3GM tools that parse, analyse and compare legal texts to detect amendments.

The results of the 3GM Summer of Code project were presented at the FossComm conference in Heraklion earlier this month.

So far, encoding of legislation is mostly done manually, says Marios Papachristou, a student at the National Technical University of Athens. “3GM aims to allow amendments to be merged and codified automatically, giving us an up-to-date view of the law.” The 3GM tools extract text from Greece’s Government Gazette (ET). Using natural language processing methods and tools, heuristics and automated learning, the tools cross-link the legal texts, identify amendments, and apply them to update the existing laws.

A slide from the 3GM project, showing part of the workflow
A slide from the 3GM presentation at the Fosscomm conference in Heraklion.

If 3GM succeeds, legal specialists would no longer need to compare multiple legal databases, saving them a lot of time, says Kostas Papadimas, GFOSS community manager, who helped coordinate the GSOC projects. The open source project welcomes contributions, including the digitising of legal texts from before 1999, to help train statistical models and improve tags.

The project is closely related to two other GSOC projects sponsored by GFOSS. One improved the text mining capabilities of the Greek Government Gazette. Here, students worked on automatic recognition of public sector entities, with their various addresses, departments and responsibilities. The other project improved the Greek language capability of Spacy, an open source natural language processing tool.

School PC labs

A third GSOC project sponsored by GFOSS improved Epoptes, a tool for managing PC labs in schools. The software is already used in hundreds of schools across Greece and other countries. The code developed over the summer adds support for Python version 3, GTK version 3, and other technical improvements. The code pull request has meanwhile been accepted, and is included in the most recent version of Epoptes.

More information:

The 3GM GSOC project sponsored by GFOSS
GFOSS GSUM results
GFOSS Fosscomm presentation on the GSOC projects