2017 is an important year for Dutch municipalities. After all, it was agreed in the coalition agreement that companies and citizens should be able to handle all of their official matters digitally by this year at the latest. This means digitizing lot of work processes. But digitization is also penetrating the meeting room, which is no less than logical. Why should we continue to hold meetings in the old-fashioned way when the municipal organisation is changing as a whole? The following trends show that although municipal meetings will continue to exist, they will inevitably change in terms of form.
Trend 1 – A different sort of meeting
How many of your colleagues still base their meetings on paper? Actually, no more than 10% of council members still use paper documents entirely. You could say that these colleagues are almost an extinct species in most municipal meeting rooms. The rest of them use a tablet or laptop for meetings or they work in a hybrid form with a combination of paper and digital. In the years to come, the number of municipalities holding fully digital meetings will increase further. This will not only mean working more effectively but will also ensure that participants can work on meeting documents wherever and whenever they like.
Trend 2 – Voting by iPad or tablet
The tablet and iPad not only ensure that meetings are more effective but also make the voting process easier. And that saves a lot of time – particularly because some items can be voted on before the meeting instead of during it. Let’s say that there are ten items on the agenda to be voted on. By voting on rubber-stamp items in advance, the physical meeting can then be devoted to the real items for discussion. For example, if everyone is in agreement about items three, eight and nine, the council no longer has to deal with them during the meeting. After voting, it is immediately clear which council members and political groups have voted for or against. What’s more, everyone knows whether a proposal has been adopted straight away.
Trend 3 – Dealing with motions and amendments digitally
Digitization not only saves a lot of time in the voting process but also means that motions and amendments can be dealt with faster. Are you still scanning and printing these documents so that council members can sign them physically? It could be done differently! In a fully digitized situation, council members enter their questions, motions and amendments in a digital system. These then go automatically into a clearly organised list and are immediately given a deadline for answering. The answers are displayed in the same list. Just think of how much time that could save the clerk!
Trend 4 – Audio and video minute-taking
This fourth trend has originated from the need for transparency in municipal meetings. At the moment, the extent to which municipal meetings are transparent differs widely. And yet digitization will ultimately make all meetings totally public. How? By switching to audio and video minute-taking. Municipal meetings will then be broadcast live and can be available afterwards on demand. Now that’s really up to date!
Municipality of Utrecht The Netherlands
If you would like to know how the municipality of Utrecht has changed the way they meet. Then please read more about in our case study.