Collaborative software
and content development
Flavio Zeni
UN-DESA - Nairobi
Interconnected Parliaments
Africa i-Parliaments
Action Plan
Collaboration is ....
... SMART and GOOD
our presentation assumes that!
...after all we are here because in 1889 people saw
the benefits of an inter-parliamentary
collaboration and founded IPU ...
... UN are about collaboration
... ICTs are about collaboration
Collaboration... SMART and GOOD!
Please note ...
I have said that
collaboration is
I have NOT said or implied that
collaboration is
without PROBLEMS
Collaboration about ...
This presentation try to identify
the types of collaborations that
actually do exploit at best
present technological environment
Collaboration/sharing might also lead to cost-saving
and synergies
but the core rationale to adopt a collaborative
software and content development is
quality and sustainability
for ALL Parliaments
Context: Parliaments have similar...
similar inputs
speeches make by people (MPs, experts, etc.)
written documents (bill, questions, motions, etc.
similar macro-processes (with different procedures)
plenary proceedings
committees proceedings
management of the flow of the above documents
similar output
Context: Similar needs but ...
Parliaments use
“different” systems that have very similar features and
functionality, in the best case.
There are
“affluent” parliaments that are likely (not guaranteed)
to have better system then less affluent parliaments
There is
growing digital divide among do and do-not parliaments
Context: ICTs uniqueness ...
ICTs are
very reusable, very adaptable, very accessible and
reproducible at very low marginal costs
even more
ICTs made “possible the impossible”
the more “information services/systems” are used, the more
diversified are the users
the better they become
but also ...
very dynamic and in constant evolution
Why ICTs collaboration is not ...
We agree that
collaboration is “smart” and “good”
Parliaments share more then what they differentiate them
ICTs tools and services to get better the more they are
Still not many parliaments seem to appreciate/exploit the
opportunity that collaboration and sharing of tools and
content could brings in terms of
quality - sustainability - bridging the Digital Divide
Why? ... you tell me!
Collaboration at what level?
ICTs have brought about technical opportunities that
are unprecedented in at least two areas:
Access to information
time or geographical location limitations
PREVALENT approach
access documents (HTML/PDF)
access to ONLY document as the users
were “local” and speaking the very same
Exchange e-mails and documents
no exploitation of creation of quality and
sustainability through collaboration and
sharing of applications
ICTs opportunities potential
across countries and languages
across media
Development and maintenance of
information services
Information system
Strategic GAP (needs)
.... between
global/continental needs
of economic integration and
harmonisation of legislation
locally focused solutions
national/institution focussed
Strategic GAP (technologies)
.... between
technological opportunities
semantic web – open/shareable solutions
practical approach
e-paper paradigm
no efforts to think “global-continental” in terms of
standards, languages, search facilities, etc.
no exploitation of sustainability through collaboration
Technological opportunities
Semantic web:
processing information according to its
content (or meaning), and not only as a pure
text by embedding computer readable
specifications (XML/RDF/OWL) to make
computer “understand” documents
Open Source Development Model
develop once, together, for better and more
sustainable tools for all parliaments
How did we in Africa fill the GAP ...
Parliamentary Document Open
Access Infrastructure
Parliamentary and legislative
Information System (based on
Open Source application and
Strategic choices: WHY?
OPEN and COMMMON standards
because they are the best way to
address the political African agenda
of economic integration of Africa and
harmonisation of African legislation
OPEN SOURCE and COMMON application
because they are the best way to deliver
high and sustainable quality information system and the
critical mass to make this happen
for ALL African Parliaments
(Architecture for KnowledgeOriented Management of African
Normative Texts using Open
Standards and Ontologies)
is a set of common
standards to produce,
classify and share digital
Parliamentary and
Legislative documents
Akoma Ntoso “Linked Hearts” – a symbol used by the Akan people of
West Africa to represent understanding and agreement;
Document components
What exactly was written in the document (semantics)
How the content is organized
The typographical choices to present a document on
screen or on paper.
After HTML ... XML
HTML helped make the Web a big success .. but
it is just a publishing medium,
it is constrained by its own simplicity and few rules not even
strongly imposed
A different format is required that provides
Clear differentiation between visual aspect and actual
meaning and presentation
Strong syntactic rules heavily imposed to guarantee
uniformity, homogeneity, sophisticated applications
XML describes structures ..
Support for documents’ generation
Support for workflow
Management of documents across lifecycle, storage,
security, timely involvement of relevant individuals and
Support for citizens’ access
Drafting activities, record keeping, translation into national
languages, etc.
Multi-channel publication (on paper and on the web),
search, classification, identification
Further activities
Consolidation, version comparison, language
synchronization, etc.
XML-AKOMA NTOSO “understands” ..
HMTL … “presents“ …
XML-Akoma Ntoso … “understands“
“Understand” ... means to make accessible the structures
and semantic components of parliamentary and
legislative documents in a “machine readable” format
to deliver
high qualities information service
AKOMA NTOSO: purpose
Define a common FORMAT for recording parliamentary
Define a MODEL for data interchange and open access
to parliamentary documents
Define a common African parliamentary DATA schema
Define a common African parliamentary METADATA
schema and ontology
Define a mechanism for citation and CROSS
REFERENCING of documents between parliaments
AKOMA NTOSO: document types
AKOMA NTOSO: naming convention
RSA Act n. 3 of the 12 April 2003
Original version
Amended version (expression) of 13 July 2005
Amended version (expression) of 3 May 2007
Current consolidated version (expression)
Parliamentary and legislative Information System
is an integrated suite
of multi-platform
architecture software
based on
Open Source Software
and Open Standards
that automates the
lifecycle of parliamentary
BUNGENI: features
Bill Process
Motions and Questions
Debate Records
Parliamentary Business
Votes and Proceedings
Virtual Workspace
Citizens' interactivity and participation
The rationale for ...
The rationale for developing and distributing Bungeni under a
Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) licence is
to optimise its functionalities
as far as possible as well as the
geographical spread
Please note that
Regional, Provincial and also municipal assemblies are ...
“parliament-like” organisations
that have very similar information needs/requirements
Development option: optimisation
The optimization strategy consists of
using a commoditised software
(e.g. the Plone/Zope,
as a basis for the developments and make the public
sector solution on top of that commoditised software and
limit the development to what is absolutely necessary
This approach:
contains investments,
leverages the existing community
creates fruitful synergies between public sector initiatives
and “communities” increasing sustainability
EC Study: benefits
Impact and return on investment of a FLOSS
development project:
scaling effect (dividing the investment and maintenance
between a number of partners)
independence (avoiding long term vendor lock-in and
proprietary formats)
better response to specific public sector needs
developing local innovation spirit, employment and
Study on the effect on the development of the information society of European
public bodies making their own software available as Open Source (2007)
PloneGov aims to create a common platform of
Plone-based e-Government initiatives
in order to promote information and best practices
benchmarking and software sharing”
6 projects merged into PloneGov
In summary ...
XML technologies and collaboration are
if you are not using or thinking to use
XML family of technologies
collaborative modalities (many forms and
... you SHOULD!
Please note ...
I have NEVER said or implied that
XML-technologies/collaboration are
or without PROBLEMES
... we are NOT in the business
of the “easy” things but the RIGHT things
advanced information systems and services
for ALL
affluent and so so affluent parliaments
A quote from ...
The Mythical Man-Month
of Fred Brooks,
a classic in the software engineering field:
"How does a project get to be a year late? day at a time"
Thank you
Africa i-Parliaments Action Plan
i-nterconnect Parliaments to make them
to strengthen the role of African Parliaments in fostering
Democracy and Good Governance in Africa

Slide 1