Digital Transformation

5 min

Navigating Remote Deliberations in the Brazilian Amazon: The Marabá City Council Experience

Câmara Municipal de Marabá | Brazil

Written on September, 2020

Strategic Partners





The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for the Marabá City Council in the Brazilian Amazon. This essay explores the council’s experience in adapting to remote deliberations and the resulting improvements in cooperation and efficiency among civil servants.


Adapting to the Pandemic


The City Council of Marabá faced significant challenges in maintaining its activities during the pandemic, which forced the suspension of in-person activities. The council’s initial response involved creating a WhatsApp group to facilitate communication among its members and develop a plan to keep the legislature open and operational.


Transition to Remote Deliberations


Although the Marabá City Council was already broadcasting its sessions via Facebook, the pandemic necessitated a complete shift to remote work. The governing council and department directors decided to resume sessions virtually and sought recommendations from the Interlegis program of the Brazilian Senate House. They adopted a virtual system for remote sessions and initiated a training process for civil servants from various departments.


Leveraging Existing Digital Infrastructure


The Marabá City Council already had a digital system in place, with legislative proposals digitised and a panel installed for sessions two years prior. Councillors were equipped with notebooks and tablets, which were then set up with the Jitsi Meet application for remote participation. Remote sessions resumed after training the councillors on how to use the system.


Challenges and Training


During isolation and quarantine, citizens became more engaged in sessions and sought answers to their questions via social media. The primary challenge for the council was training civil servants and councillors on the new technologies. Initial difficulties included microphone and camera control and members speaking out of order. Poor internet quality at councillors’ residences prompted them to return to their offices.


A legislative act established remote deliberation in the City Council, defining actions that could be performed remotely. Documentation was then shared through institutional emails, highlighting another challenge: some civil servants had difficulty using email. This revealed the urgency of training civil servants to use basic technologies.


Improvements and Collaboration


The council began using all SAPL tools from the Brazilian Federal Senate’s Interlegis to process legislative proposals and reports. Notable improvements included increased cooperation among civil servants, faster activities, and better dialogue between the leaders of the house. The pandemic encouraged civil servants to seek new skills and explore new ways of managing public administration.




The Marabá City Council’s experience demonstrates the importance of adaptability and embracing technological solutions during times of crisis. While challenges remain, the council’s transition to remote deliberations has fostered greater cooperation and efficiency among its members. The lessons learned during the pandemic will have lasting implications for the council’s ability to serve its constituents and manage public administration in the Brazilian Amazon.

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