How parliaments, authorities and the judiciary strengthen democracy with transparency.

This Sunday, local parliaments will be elected in Germany – hardly any other body has so many opportunities to shape the future, as the decisions of a local council are often directly and immediately tangible for citizens. Trust in our local and regional parliaments is very high, as a study by the University of Hohenheim presented at the Democracy Conference shows. According to the study, citizens trust the democratic actions of a local council or the judiciary significantly more than the Bundestag or even the federal government.

Trust in institutions in Baden-Württemberg
Trust in institutions in Baden Württemberg (red - distrust, grey - partly/partly, green - trust)

However, there is also increasing skewed discourse and friction at municipal level – in Constance and Offenburg, for example, local council meetings were attended by hundreds of angry citizens as visitors and this over-presence also exerted a kind of pressure on the council members when making decisions. A situation that is difficult for everyone involved and shows that something may have slipped at regional level in relation to the committees. The trust in the local council elected by the citizens to make decisions for the benefit of the citizens is being delegitimized and thus the functioning of democracy is being called into question. The democracy conference in Reutlingen provided some answers and approaches to refute these accusations and highlight the strengths of democracy.

Live broadcasts as a means of direct participation

One answer to this development could indeed be more transparency. At municipal level in particular, people often have little choice and have to follow the debates live as spectators in the chamber. However, this means that many people cannot get involved in the debate and do not experience how individual representatives of the political groups campaign for the different camps. Democracy does take place, but it is not visible and this can give the impression that politics is being conducted in back rooms. This is precisely why the Bundestag has been broadcasting all debates live since 1991. Thanks to technological progress and automation — including AI — we are now able to broadcast state and local parliaments without expensive broadcasting equipment, make decisions more transparent and thus strengthen democracy at regional level too.

Live streams allow citizens to follow meetings in real time, regardless of their location. This openness makes political decision-making processes accessible to everyone and also enables those who are unable to attend in person for health or other reasons to actively participate in the political process. In addition, the live broadcast contributes to informed citizen participation. By gaining an insight into the debates, votes and arguments of elected representatives, citizens can form an informed opinion and get a better impression of who represents their interests.

Automatic accessibility and protocol thanks to AI

With our automatic transcription, you not only have the opportunity to broadcast the session, but also to offer the whole thing barrier-free, as subtitles also make it easier for deaf people to follow and participate. Another advantage of our transcription is the option to create a transcript — our Speaker Identification can assign what is said to the people and our Speech Recognition automatically recognizes and transcribes the speech — even locally if required, without data transfer or cloud service. The latter in particular is attracting a great deal of interest from courts or non-public bodies that nevertheless want to implement a duty of proof as simply as possible.

The human in the loop

AI will never be able to automate democracy — whether it’s checking subtitles, taking minutes or voting in council, in the end humans are in full control. We are simply using the strengths of new technologies to safeguard our democracy and make things easier where necessary — at a time when staffing levels are getting thinner and thinner.

What are the results?

The example of the city of Essen shows that such livestream formats are accepted — an average of 1,200 to 1,500 viewers attend the council meetings live. And even in smaller cities such as Bamberg with its 70,000 inhabitants, the BR says that they are satisfied with the number of clicks on the digital sessions, as they were previously limited in terms of visitor capacity.

In any case, the trend is continuing — in addition to the city of Essen, Oberhausen, and Duisburg are now also broadcasting their committees online, thus ensuring greater transparency for citizens. Although no study has yet been carried out on the success of these broadcasts among local voters and supporters of greater transparency, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

We will do our duty on Sunday and vote, regardless of which party, as long as we exercise our hard-won right to free elections and strengthen democracy by making use of our vote.

Subtitling and translation for media companies and public authorities

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While our predictive multi-AI solution delivers the best results and accuracy in near real-time, with our dictionaries we are also able to map the most specific conferences and topics. All maintained via our web editor, we deliver digital (translated) transcripts and subtitles in perfect quality and near real-time — regardless of the delivery system used, thanks to our Rest-API.

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