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To use a digital congress system at congresses and annual meetings

In the past, congresses and annual meetings were almost always associated with a large consumption of paper. Tons of documents were printed out so that delegates could read motions, requests and summaries. Nowadays, digital congress systems are most often used, which include all the tools required to maintain the democratic process. In addition to drastically reducing the need for paper, digital congress systems can also effectively speed up and secure voting and other congressional procedures.

A congress or an annual meeting is a solemn gathering for many organizations, unions and political parties. It is a long-awaited highlight when members gather, debate, vote, make decisions and push the work forward. While the meeting is something to look forward to, it also means a significant effort for everyone involved and may require preparation months, perhaps years, in advance. It is important that each step is well planned and works smoothly; invitations, logistics, premises, hotels, meals, entertainment, and not least – the technology.

Tommy Nivrén is a senior Project Manager at Creative Technology and has worked for many years with meetings and congresses together with a number of unions, organizations and political parties. He has solid experience and a great interest in the complex processes that the various stages of congresses and meetings involve. One of his most important tools in this work is Creative Technology’s own developed congress system tecViz Congress.

How come you got so involved in these types of meetings?

I have always worked with planning and logistics and I like to make sure that the right things end up in the right place at the right time. I want to have the systems behind things work smoothly, so that the complex congress process flows as it should – I like to be able to bring order in a large flow of requests, opinions and interests,  and to funnel it down to something manageable, so that everyone get a clear idea of ​​what to do. You could call it information logistics.

What is important to keep in mind when arranging a congress or annual meeting?

It is important to be clear about what you want the meeting to achieve. It is usually not a problem for organizations that often do this type of event, but if you are not yet that experienced, or if you haven’t already worked with digital tools, you may need help formulating this. We as a technology supplier need to discuss with the client at a detailed level and understand what their process is like. It is important that the client is able to share this with us, so that we can get a good understanding of their needs. Many clients feel that we are a support for them in this process – we do this all the time while many organizations may conduct this type of meeting every two years. Oftentimes we can add a lot of value in this phase. It is important that we early on can create a common picture of what it will be like during the congress or the meeting, and that we agree on how everything will go.

What role does the digital congress system tecViz play at this type of event?

tecViz Congress is a support throughout the whole meeting and in a simple, intuitive and user-friendly way it fulfills all the functions required. As a participant, you can follow the agenda in the system and you can read all the documents that form the basis for the debate. The system also includes forms for delegates to submit their pleas, and functions for putting themselves up on the speaker list during the debate.

It is also a help for the presidium to keep track on how much time each speaker has left. The rules regarding speaking time can be complex and contain special regulations for responses etcetera. Sometimes you will have double lists of speakers, which can mean that a person who has not yet spoken has priority over others who have already spoken. You can also have something called a speaker’s time pot, which is a complex system that is used for both large and small meetings.

When the debate is over, you will have received a number of pleas and after that you’ll create a proposition order in the system, that is, you put different proposals up against each other and then it is time to vote. Voting is also conducted directly in the system and delegates use their tablet, computer or cell phone to vote. This means that you quickly can get an exact result, at times when a show of hands or acclamation is not enough. The system constantly logs data that comes in, such as votes, decisions, and more. This is an important basis for the minutes or record of the meeting.

Can the system be further developed?

We have recently developed a new module that helps the rapporteur support or the party board in their work to handle demands, and for the presidium to create bill arrangements. It is a great advantage for us that we can develop new functions together with our clients, when we see needs arise. There is a security and flexibility in that we have our own development department.

How does a virtual congress or meeting work?

At a virtual meeting, participants receive information by email about how to connect to the meeting and will then follow the presidium via a video conference solution, e.g. Teams or Zoom or any other low-latency system. Those who don’t have the right to vote will follow the meeting via a regular stream on the organization’s website, for example. The presidium often sits in one of our studios where we can provide a professional camera production. In the Teams meeting, our production then enters as a participant so that the program feed is visible to all participants and the presidium can thus control the meeting.

As part of the preparatory process we produce training materials for both participants and the presidium, so that everyone will get a clear vision of how to participate in a virtual meeting, and we usually recommend that training sessions be held before the meeting. We also have a support function where participants can call and get help from our skilled technicians if they have problems. You may have lost your link and can’t enter the meeting, or you perhaps you can’t hear anything or find where to vote, and so on.

Can the congress or the meeting be held as a hybrid event, and how does it work?

Of course! A hybrid meeting could mean that you have a small physical meeting with some participants on-site together with the presidium and another part of the participants at a distance. You can also create hubs, i.e. several smaller physical meetings in different places that we connect via our technology. Then you can follow via the camera production what is happening in the various locations. And you can make a mix of all this. You have the same opportunity to sign up for the speaker’s list, vote and participate as in a physical meeting.

What does the future hold for these different types of meetings?

Most people want to return to physical meetings, and we now see that the opportunities for organizations to meet physically again increase. For many, it is the event of the year and it’s important to be able to meet, have a coffee, laugh and exchange thoughts and ideas. This is something that has been difficult during the pandemic, but working with hubs has been a good alternative. For some organizations, it has even been a better alternative when you meet in your local area and talk to each other, which can be difficult when there are a large number of delegates at a large national meeting. Participating virtually works well in that the formal and democratic process can be maintained, but the social element is lacking. However, in a virtual meeting you can also create smaller group meetings in virtual meeting rooms, where you can meet people based on interests or various discussions and themes. An advantage of our tecViz Congress system is that it works just as well in virtual meetings as in physical ones, where we of course also have very long experience. I believe that the future may be a mix between physical and digital meetings, where we can help finding exactly the model that best suits each specific project. This gives greater choices.

 

About tecViz Congress

tecViz Congress is an advanced congress system used to manage the democratic process and formalities in annual meetings and congresses. The system includes tools for administering participants, and handles motions, votings, speaker lists, speaker’s time and protocols. Each delegate uses a tablet or computer to review documents, submit pleas, request the floor and vote. tecViz Congress ensures a smooth meeting process while replacing the tons of paper traditionally used.

Features

Request for the floor
Speaker list & speaker’s time
Plea submission
Voting
Generation of records
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