One of the project tasks is to learn from other countries, if and how videoconferencing is applied. For this purpose, the SimpliVi project partners went to Sweden as they already knew that videoconferencing is there not only very often used but also with a high level of experience and elaboration.
There were actually two stops for the SimpliVi team: first, the journey led to the capital city of Stockholm, where the Stockholm prosecution office welcomed the team. Second, after taking a high speed train to the city of Jönköping, where the National Court Authority - responsible for all kinds of support for the courts - is situated, the team was already facing a highlight of all current and future study visits.
But let's start in Stockholm on 30 October 2023, afternoon: although only coordinated on a short term basis and time-limited, the well-prepared hosts of the Stockholm prosecution office were giving insights into their approach for videoconferencing. From a legal aspect the SimpliVi team could learn that the legal basis for videoconferencing is quite simple and effective. Also, the willingness of all stakeholders to use videoconferencing, is very high, since Swedish citizens are used to use digital means of communication - not only since the pandemic. From a technical perspective it was worth noting, that the prosecution office uses Skype for Business for many years now and also integrates it with other videoconferencing systems as long as they are bases on standards. Thus, the users do not need to change between different tools. For the specific topic of cross-border videoconferencing the main finding was, that this is basically a matter of the courts. Such videoconferences are usually done only at a later stage, when a case is already handed over to the court, which would then organise a videoconference with its own system.
After travelling to Jönköping, the SimpliVi spent the entire day of 31 October 2023 with the National Court Authority (NCA) of Sweden. The learnings were mesmerising. The level of experience and elaboration of videoconferencing at Swedish courts is outstanding. As said before the legal basis is given with a simple and effective empowerment to use videoconferencing. The NCA is then competent for the technical videoconferencing facilities. The provision of such facilities is based on a more then two-decades work with applying videoconferencing. Based on this experience the equippment of court rooms is highly adapted to the needs of videoconferences. The NCA has developed an extensive guide how to set up such a court room. Each VC-equipped court room in Sweden follows this scheme. In order to train court staff for videoconferencing, the NCA has set up two mid-sized court rooms for training purposes. These rooms are also used to evaluate new developments of the videoconferencing system. Finally, a new generation of VC equipment is rolled out approx. every 10 years to ensure to stay up to date.
As an overall finding it could be seen that videoconferencing has a high value in Sweden leading to investments in human and technical resources to support this value.
The SimpliVi team has identified many best practices, which will be listed in the Deliverable "D2.1: Recommendations for simplifying cross-border judicial videoconferencing".