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FAIR-Data based visualization in the Dutch Parliament

2 March 2020

Information is the key ingredient for any Parliament to exercise its duty to control the government. In the past, the Dutch Parliament had special windows in the wall of the deliberation room, to provide the parliamentarians with the necessary information during the debates. Today, the back row of the Parliament provides seats for assistants behind computer screens, who can assist Parliamentarians during the debate. But in the future, the information will be generated from digital data, and machine-reading and artificial intelligence will play an important role in assisting parliamentarians.
The Parliament wants to make better use of digital data to strengthen the information position of Parliamentarians in its task to control the government. To help achieve this, students from the Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) were invited to solve problems of data visualisation of the Dutch Parliament. The students received a problem and data. The Parliament received presentations showing the solutions that students provided: a dashboard for easy access to votes on motions; text mining to visualize the content of large amounts of text in one graph; or maps of potential conflicts emerging in certain places.
All of the solutions presented showed the great potential of the Dutch Parliament in working with young students. This kind of collaboration makes students aware of the contribution they can make to the information position of Dutch parliamentarians. The creative solutions of the new digital generation also opened perspectives for the data scientists in the Parliament in could be imagined.
The students presented the power of FAIR: data that are Findable, Accessible under well-defined conditions, Interoperable and Reusable. FAIR helps to speed up what machines can do to increase the reliability of the information. But, much more important is that FAIR provides a clear framework of governance, on how data should be treated. FAIR gives the perfect mechanism to comply with the European regulations on personal data protection, as it helps to implement the principle that data must always belong to the data subject. The strength of the decentralized architecture of FAIR is that, once the government sets the basic principles, the FAIR data stewards have the tools to implement this.
For the Dutch Parliament to embrace its ambition to strengthen its information position based on data, it must embrace FAIR-data. With this position, it will not only be the best-informed Parliament, but it will also guide the way of the government to treat its data according to principles that strengthen governance and strengthen the compliance of data with guidelines. In a period where many doubt the role of data, it is important for Parliament to lead by example and to show how data will transform into information for the good of society.

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