December 15th 2020
In the fall of 2020, the Hackathon for Good 2020 took place in which The Hague Legal Tech Alliance played a crucial role with a challenge in the field of innovation in the law. What were the motives behind this hackathon and challenge? These are the insights of Saskia Bruines (alderman for Economics, International and Services at the Municipality of The Hague, including the portfolios of economics, innovation policy, and ICT), Bart Jan van Ettekoven (chairman of the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State and professor by special appointment of state and administrative law at the University of Amsterdam) and Sandra van Heukelom-Verhage (lawyer and partner at Pels Rijcken, specialized in innovation, technology, and privacy).
Why does the Municipality of The Hague support the Hackathon for Good?
The Hague is the international city of Peace & Justice and works day in, day out to create a better world. The municipality supports the Hackathon for Good because it wants to work with its social partners on the most urgent challenges in the world. The Hague believes that using technologies such as big data and AI offers excellent opportunities for this. During the fall of 2020, the third edition of the Hackathon for Good 2020 took place where teams from all over the world developed innovative solutions for global social issues of organizations based in The Hague using data.
How can the Hackathon for Good contribute to the development of The Hague’s innovative ecosystem?
The Hague has a large number of innovative hotspots that complement each other nicely. The Hackathon for Good 2020 was therefore organized by The Hague Tech in collaboration with the innovation hub around safety; The Hague Security Delta, the hub focused on innovations for a better world; the Hague Humanity Hub, the innovation programs of YES! Delft and World Startup and the talent program Digital Competence & Education Center. The Hackathon for Good allows us to connect The Hague's innovation¬ ecosystem to organizations with innovation issues. We see that this leads to promising coalitions and innovative solutions that benefit the world.
How can the Hackathon for Good promote the attractive power of The Hague for IT talent?
Hosting the Hackathon for Good increases The Hague's appeal for (new) IT talent. Digitization brings opportunities but also challenges. Employers in the region of The Hague are currently unable to attract and retain qualified personnel with the right competencies. There is an urgent need to train more IT talent, retrain non-IT people, lifelong learning, and retaining scarce IT talent. The Hackathon for Good can fulfill a driving role in the field of knowledge development and education in the field of IT & Security.
What role can the Hackathon for Good play in optimizing the business climate in which start-ups and scale-ups can excel in entrepreneurship?
The Hackathon for Good generates innovative technological solutions for urgent challenges in the world. This leads to promising initiatives that can have a significant (social and economic) impact. For example, the first Hackathon for Good has led to a legal/ethical framework on the basis of which humanitarian organizations such as IOM and the Red Cross deploy AI. That sounds abstract, but ultimately it is about protecting human rights, such as protecting the privacy of people in refugee camps. And during this year's Hackathon, for example, work was done on a tool that can automatically anonymize large amounts of data and subsequently publish it, making the legal position of citizens in our constitutional state much more transparent. With its innovation hubs such as Yes! Delft, World Startup, and The Hague Tech, The Hague is the ideal location for start-ups and scale-ups to develop technological innovations, apply them (on a small scale), and then use them on a larger scale.
During the Hackathon for Good 2020, the participants were supported, guided, taught, and facilitated in their challenges. In this way, they could get to know the extensive range of facilities and processes for start-ups and scale-ups in The Hague in an accessible way. As host of the Hackathon for Good, The Hague is and will remain attractive for start-ups and scale-ups to establish themselves.
How can the economic growth in The Hague be boosted by investing in key technology?
By investing in key technology such as AI, investments are made in the economy and the world of tomorrow. The Hague is an ideal place, especially now that the engines behind the development of that new economy and world are already strongly present in this city. The Hague has a strong ICT and creative sector as well as many knowledge institutions. This combination makes The Hague a very suitable place to work on innovations for a safe, better, and just world. This happens every day from three economic profiles that form the international face of The Hague: Legal & Policy Capital (just world), Impact City (a better world), and Security Delta (safe world). The Hackathon for Good can boost the development of artificial intelligence and thus boost The Hague's economy.
Why was The Hague Legal Tech Alliance created?
The Hague Legal Tech Alliance wants to connect classic legal institutes with the start-up community within The Hague and play a facilitating role in allowing law and justice to participate in the digitizing world. The Alliance was co-initiated by the law firm Pels Rijcken, based in The Hague. Classical legal institutes include courts such as the Council of State and regulators such as the Authority for Consumers & Markets. In this Hackaton, the focus was on a properly functioning rule of law in which transparency is of great importance. If statements and decisions by guiding legal institutions and government agencies are not public or difficult to find for the population, this can undermine trust in the law and the rule of law. At the same time, the desired transparency must not come at the expense of protecting personal data and data that may not be disclosed by law. Security and access to justice are central in our city and the many legal institutes established in The Hague contribute to this, including through the administration of justice and investigation. To maintain this unique position in the future, The Hague is committed to connecting these important, but often traditional institutes with innovative sectors and knowledge institutions.
Why did The Hague Tech Alliance participate with a challenge in the Hackathon for Good 2020?
The Hague Legal Tech Alliance is convinced that technology can contribute to making law and jurisprudence transparent and at the same time protecting privacy, for example, through the use of automatic cleaning programs (programs that automatically anonymize data or other types of data - e.g., company-sensitive data). The Hague Legal Tech Alliance is currently investigating the use of technology for this process. During the challenge, for example, the Council of State focused on making all judgments public, provided they meet the requirements of, among other things, the General Data Protection Regulation. The Hague Legal Tech Alliance challenged participants of the hackathon this year to make mock-ups of technological applications that contribute to the generation of documents that - on the one hand directly meet the requirements of transparency, and on the other hand contain privacy or cleaning applications. The Hague Legal Tech Alliance also hoped that the participants would gain more insight into (future) possibilities to enable the traditional legal institutes in The Hague to take a step towards a digital society in other areas as well.
Why is digitization of great importance in case law?
Society is digitizing, and that also applies to the judiciary. Thousands of lawsuits take place every year at the Council of State alone. Digital litigation is the future. So the question is not whether we are going to digitize, but how and at what pace. After a transition phase in which the flow of paper procedural documents will become increasingly smaller, the phase will come when we have all relevant information available digitally—also, all statements. We can increase the access of citizens and businesses to justice through innovative technological applications in the judiciary. The ambition is to publish 100% of court rulings online in the long term. At the moment, this is about 60% for the Council of State and about 3% for regional courts. Because publishing online is very labor-intensive due to the anonymization to be carried out, too few court rulings are online. And that is unfortunate because the publication of all relevant judgments on the internet is of great importance for the public and accessibility of justice.
What does digitization mean for the judiciary?
Judicial organizations must be aware of their knowledge position and the “golden” mountain of
data at their disposal. That knowledge is used internally, but it would be better
if that knowledge could also be shared externally. That can help citizens. When sketching an up-
to-date picture of the procedures; what can you expect as a citizen if you lodge an appeal with the
Council of State? What is the current status of the procedure and what will be the next step? But
also neutral information about the state of case law on the point of dispute. When providing that
information, the legal position of the data subjects must of course be taken into account, including
their privacy. This requires lawyers to know about digitization in relation to legislation, decision-
making and case law. But also cooperation between lawyers and experts from other disciplines,
such as communication experts, language experts, data analysts and programmers.
Why did Pels Rijcken set up The Hague Legal Tech Alliance together with the Municipality of The Hague?
We are based in The Hague and have many public clients. We are also the office of the State Attorney. We are currently fully involved in all kinds of technology and innovations in the public sector, including in the Innovation, Privacy and Technology section. In that context, we are working, among other things, on strengthening the rule of law through the use of technology. We have recently seen that the classic legal institutions in the city, with which we have a lot of contact - either because they are clients or because we visit them regularly - are becoming increasingly open to the use of new technologies and innovations. Sometimes they just don't know where to start and where to go, or who they can trust in the technological world. At the same time, we saw and experienced that the municipality of The Hague is investing heavily in building and professionalizing the start-and scale-up community in The Hague. From these developments arose the common idea to connect these worlds in an Alliance. This made the The Hague Legal Tech Alliance a fact.
How can an impulse be given to the digitization of the law?
We want to make a significant contribution to the future-proofing of the law. Digitization can play an essential role in this. To this end, it is important to investigate how we can bridge the gap between national and international authorities in the field of peace, justice and security and the start-up community in The Hague. The task is to connect these two worlds, so that they can reinforce each other in the present and the future. The use of technology can give a boost to this. The Hackathon for Good 2020 is the platform where data is used to work on innovative technological solutions for social issues of organizations based in The Hague.
How can digitization contribute to accessibility and transparency of the law?
As Bart Jan van Ettekoven points out, it is of great importance that the judiciary is accessible and transparent so that it is clear to citizens and entrepreneurs how law works and what the state of the judiciary is. In order to comply with this, judicial decisions must be made public, of course with due regard for privacy. This can be done by making statements available online. Currently, this requires a lot of time and effort from the dishes. But this applies just as much to all administrative bodies dealing with Wob requests and soon WOO requests. Sometimes many thousands of pages have to be gone through to assess whether that page can be made public in full. Precisely because public access is a great good, it is essential to consider how technology ('natural language processing' and algorithms) can help make government information public correctly - with due observance of at least the rules in the field of privacy. That is why The Hague Legal Tech Alliance challenged participants of the hackathon this year to make mock-ups of technological applications that contribute to the generation of documents that, on the one hand, directly meet the requirements of transparency and, on the other hand, contain privacy or cleaning applications. The next challenge is to not only clean up existing documents but also to set up new records so that they immediately comply with the cleaning procedures. The Hackathon for Good is the platform where we can show that technology can contribute to justice. We feel proud that the hackathon challenge met the foundations of The Legal Tech Alliance and its partners.
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