About Senado de la Republica of Mexico
Written on September, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the ways in which governments and organizations across the world operate. Among them, the Mexican Senate House had to adapt quickly to ensure continuity of operations. In this essay, we will discuss the remote deliberations that took place in the Mexican Senate House, the technology used to support these deliberations, and the challenges faced in their implementation.
The Need for Remote Deliberations
With the pandemic disrupting normal operations, the Mexican Senate House, like other parliaments around the world, had to implement solutions to maintain the continuity of its operations. Legislative work, as the main product of the Senate House, needed to continue, along with the functions of civil servants, technical areas, investigation, and administration. As a result, there was an urgent need to find alternative means to facilitate the continuation of essential tasks and meetings.
To maintain continuity of work, the Mexican Senate House adopted videoconferencing tools in April 2020. These tools allowed the Senate to implement a virtual work infrastructure to enable civil servants to continue working from their homes. The Senate hosted nearly two thousand virtual work meetings in 2020, covering administrative, parliamentary, technical, and legislative committees. The technical support for these meetings was provided by specialists in videoconferencing tools, ensuring smooth and efficient communication.
The Senate used the Webex platform for its remote meetings and integrated it with Microsoft Teams through the active directory. This decision was made primarily for security reasons and the ease of integration with the existing telecommunications infrastructure provided by Cisco. The Webex platform provided the flexibility to conduct both shorter meetings and longer sessions, depending on the needs of the Senate.
One of the key challenges faced in the implementation of remote deliberations was training and explaining how to access these technological solutions remotely. As face-to-face training workshops were not possible, a small group of colleagues worked diligently to contact legislators via phone and email to provide the necessary guidance and support.
Another challenge was preparing for hybrid sessions, where some legislators would be physically present in the plenary session, while others would be virtually connected. To facilitate remote voting, the Senate planned to implement facial recognition technology through a mobile application. This required the integration of physical and digital systems to ensure that senators could participate effectively in the sessions, regardless of their location.
Legal Reforms and Implementation
Despite the development of technological solutions, remote voting had not been implemented as of the time of the transcription due to the need for legal reforms. There was a debate among legislators about whether constitutional reforms or regulatory reforms within each chamber would be sufficient to enable remote voting. Nonetheless, the Mexican Senate House was technologically prepared to implement remote voting as soon as the necessary legal reforms were in place.
The Mexican Senate House’s response to the pandemic illustrates the potential for technological innovations to support the continuity of government operations. By swiftly adopting videoconferencing tools and integrating them into the existing infrastructure, the Senate managed to maintain its essential functions throughout the pandemic. While challenges related to training and legal reforms remain, the overall success of the Senate’s approach demonstrates the value of embracing technology in the face of unprecedented challenges.
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