Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Week in Brussels: Luncheon with an EU official

Yesterday I had a luncheon appointment with an EU official. And we did not do like the locals do, but we It is a medium term project. Once opened to the general public in early 2007, the fully operational system will be a One-Stop Shop” Referencing Portal for legislative documents.went to a Greek restaurant between the EU office blocks.

The EU official is heading an interesting information project, which to me is rather unique. The project could be classified as a context portal. It is a pilot project, which should bring transparency in the legislative process of the parties involved: the European Commission, the European Parliament and Council of Europe. Officially the objective is to increase transparency by means of a common interface aimed at facilitating the access to, and where appropriate the consultation of, documents related to the EU law-making process. This process is rather complex and even difficult for an insider. So with all kind of tools available for documentalists such as terminology lists, thesauri and glossaries as well as a workflow tool, the people working on the process hope to get clear what the state is of the legislative process as well as the full document flow available.

A screendump of the context portal

Implementation of the experimental pilot project will ensure that at least the documents three European Institutions and the Office of Official Publications can be consulted by the same mechanism simultaneously without interfering with the functioning of the existing databases. Documents from other Institutions from the institutions will be added in an iterative way. In fact in this project an intelligent interface is being developed, which can handle all the different documentary systems of the European institutes and as a bonus people will be able to see the state-of-a-law in process.

The search engine within this Context Portal will be similar to a modern “Internet like” multilingual search system using as a basis the EU communities’ EuroVoc twenty language thesaurus.

This Portal imposes a very light overhead on the Information Provider Systems (IPS) as there is no connection between systems but only a supply of information from, and some “discussion” between, the IPS and project’s Central System in the form of a specific XML structured messaging protocol.

To avoid other systems like web sites, etc. being obliged to hold duplicate copies of documents, or having to put in place manual hyper-links, or having links to one or more systems logically “below” the Portal, the operational system will be itself a provider of validated reference information on the FSJ legislation and their related procedures to other systems using the Information Provider Message Protocol. Consequently, using as a unique information source the Portal, other systems will be able to seamlessly display the information using their own graphical layout.

Once opened to the general public in early 2007, the fully operational system will be a One-Stop Shop” Referencing Portal for legislative documents. The system will get its first grilling when a mock-up is tested between November 8 till 17 by legal documentalists from outside the European Commission. Invitations will be sent upon receipt of a message.

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