Digital Transformation

5 min

Digital Transformation in Governance: A Comprehensive Analysis of Chile's Virtual Congress

Congreso Nacional de Chile

Strategic Partners



In the era of digitalisation, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, influencing how we communicate, work, and interact within our societies. In this context, the governmental sphere is not an exception. The integration of technology in governance can significantly enhance transparency, citizen engagement, and overall efficiency. The case of Chile, with its implementation of the Virtual Congress application, is an interesting example of this technological transition in the legislative process. The speaker, a Chilean government representative, provides a detailed account of their experiences with this tool, offering valuable insights into the transformation of the democratic process in response to the challenges posed by the global pandemic.


The Advent of Citizen Participation in the Legislative Process


The Virtual Congress application in Chile is a ground-breaking digital tool designed to facilitate citizen participation in the legislative process. This platform creates an opportunity for every citizen to contribute to the development of various bills, fostering a more inclusive and representative legislative process. The importance of this tool, as highlighted by the speaker, is especially pronounced in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This crisis has catalysed the transition to a new paradigm across sectors including the economy, healthcare, and education, thus necessitating increased collaboration, collective intelligence, and open governance.


The speaker emphasises the significance of open parliament and open government activities, underlining the imperative for greater co-creation. The Virtual Congress platform was designed following a co-creative process, in collaboration with the bicameral group of transparency. This committee, comprising Representatives and Senators, is responsible for driving reforms and regulations through Congress, making them a crucial part of the tool’s development.


Challenges and Solutions: The Path to Implementing the Virtual Congress


The journey towards the implementation of the Virtual Congress application was not devoid of hurdles. The speaker identifies political will, structured action plans, co-creation, and financing as the four key ingredients to its successful realisation. The Inter-American Development Bank provided much-needed financial support, while the bicameral group of transparency played an instrumental role in garnering political support for the project.


One of the most significant challenges faced was the initial assumption that artificial intelligence (AI) would efficiently systematise participation. However, the complexities and nuances of natural language presented substantial obstacles. As a result, human intervention became necessary to create comprehensive reports from the comments and votes received through the platform. These reports, summarising the public opinion, are then sent to the parliamentary committees, ensuring that citizens’ voices are heard and integrated into the legislative process.


The Evolutionary Journey of the Virtual Congress


The Virtual Congress is a dynamic platform that continues to evolve in response to user feedback and evolving needs. The speaker refers to an incident where they realised the need to include a feature for uploading reports, something that was initially overlooked. This situation underlines the importance of iterative design and a mindset of continuous improvement in technological projects.


Moreover, the platform provides valuable statistical data on participation, including age demographics and a word cloud visualisation of popular terms. However, as the speaker notes, not all comments can be presented to the commission due to volume constraints. Therefore, a specialist is tasked with the responsibility of analysing the feedback, distilling the essence, and highlighting key recommendations from the users.


Ongoing Challenges and Future Aspirations


Despite the significant strides made with the Virtual Congress, the speaker acknowledges that several challenges persist. The majority of active participants are from Santiago, Valparaiso, and Biobio, indicating that the platform has not yet fully penetrated into the more remote regions of Chile. This highlights the need for further efforts to enhance digital inclusivity and reach out to citizens in all corners of the country.


In addition, the speaker recognises a need to improve users’ understanding of the legislation process and the bills on which they are voting. This suggests a requirement for a more comprehensive educational approach to increase the effectiveness of citizens’ engagement in the legislative process.


Finally, as the speaker highlights, the implementation of the Virtual Congress has been a significant step towards regaining citizens’ trust in the parliamentary process. It has not only provided a transparent mechanism for citizen participation but has also facilitated a deeper understanding of the legislative process among the public.



The Virtual Congress application in Chile stands as a significant example of how digital transformation can positively affect citizen engagement in legislative processes. The successful implementation, albeit not without challenges, demonstrates the potential advantages of integrating technology into governmental processes. This tool has not only introduced a transparent mechanism for citizen participation but also promoted a deeper understanding of the legislative process among the public.


However, the journey towards full digital inclusivity and the effective use of this tool is ongoing, with a continuing need for educational efforts and outreach to more remote areas of the country. The future lies in harnessing the potential of the Virtual Congress’ open code system, which could serve as a blueprint for other nations aspiring to develop similar platforms. In summary, the Virtual Congress application epitomises the benefits and challenges of merging technology and governance, offering valuable insights for the future of digital government globally.

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