An international open standard for legislative documents will be an important next step for making legislative information available to the people. An open standard will promote the creation of tools and services worldwide that will enable citizen participation in the legislative process and will enhance how governments make the laws they produce more transparent.
Today there is a great deal of inconsistency in how open participation and transparency are achieved around the world. Putting cultural and political differences aside, part of the reason for the inconsistency is the tremendous effort and cost involved in building the infrastructure to support these new objectives. An open standard will start to solve this problem by promoting the establishment of a real legal informatics industry of interoperable tools and services which can easily be put together to address whatever committment a government has made to open and transparent government.
Akoma Ntoso is an emerging standard the promises to do just this. It is an XML schema, developed by the University of Bologna in Italy. It was developed for Africa i-Parliaments, a project sponsored by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In the coming weeks, an OASIS technical committee will begin the process of turning this standard into an international standard. I am a participant on that TC.
To further promote and to publicize Akoma Ntoso, I am working with Ari Hershowitz #arihersh to stage an international hackathon within the next few months. The idea is to provide an event for people that will demystify XML and Akoma Ntoso (yes, it is hard to say) by providing a really easy way for anyone to create a document using the proposed standard. Our goal will be to collect a world’s worth of legislative samples. This could be an important step towards building a library that stitches together all the world’s laws and regulations in an open and transparent way.
We’re currently seeking sponsors, participants, and venues for this hackathon. The interest we have found so far has been quite amazing. If you are interested in helping us make this event a success, please let either Ari or me know.