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Briefing: Cisco Webex Legislate

On November 5, 2020, Cisco briefed on its upcoming virtual legislative session tool Webex Legislate. Webex Legislate enables legislators around the world to vote and conduct hearings virtually, with applications for national/international, state/regional, and local governing bodies. With Webex Legislate, Cisco aims to build on the large international demand governing bodies have for its products: globally, there are 544,856 legislatures with a Cisco presence. While Webex Legislate is orderable on the Cisco Global Price List, there is limited availability through November but general availability in December.

At launch, Webex Legislate will support desktop, laptop, tablet, Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS platforms. However, all platforms will require a WebRTC browser: currently, Chrome, Safari, and FireFox cannot support voting functionality. Hardware that can support Webex Legislate includes DeskPro and the RoomKit Mini, which can be used as IO for WebRTC.

Licensing for Webex Legislate will consist of one license per voting member per month for a legislature, appearing as an add-on to Webex Meetings and Webex Teams. Webex Legislate is FedRAMP certified.

Key features of Webex Legislate include:

  • Virtual voting functionality: set up a voting agenda, analyze result of votes in real time, with customized analyses and breakdowns.
  • Conduct virtual and hybrid hearings: session and timer management, hand-raising, action trackers, closed captions, and multiple hosts.
  • Roles: digital clerks, legislators, administrative clerks, interpreters – all customizable.
  • Live interpretation: listen live in alternative languages, ASL video feeds that can be overlaid.
  • Preserves tradition: configure organization names, users, groups, participant actions, colors, and more.
  • Sidebar meeting rooms: jump from main meeting room into a separate sidebar video meeting rom to chat privately, before rejoining main meeting.
  • Secure participation verification: in-person lobby attendant verification is built in, backed by Cisco’s DUO MFA.

There is currently no PSTN access for dial-in or dial-out, and no timeline on the roadmap for its inclusion.

Our Take

Throughout the pandemic, Info-Tech’s governmental agency members have sought ready solutions to virtually replicate the townhall or legislature experience. Typically, solutions have included MS Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom – tools that may meet general requirements but do not go all the way to meet specific needs required for governmental hearings and sessions. Indeed, near the beginning of the pandemic, Info-Tech reported on the strengths and weaknesses of these tools for virtual townhalls, especially MS Teams.

Cisco has responded to this demand with Webex Legislate, which is surely now the must-have tool for governmental agencies to conduct virtual and hybrid sessions – especially if they are already leveraging Cisco products. While lack of PSTN access could hold the tool back, there is much to say about the voting functionality, live interpretation, and sidebar meeting rooms that make this tool attractive.

Info-Tech’s Rapid Application Selection Framework offers a streamlined process for choosing new software. If your organization needs to make a quick decision (1-2 months) for determining Webex Legislate’s suitability, our framework provides the tools and insight required to do so.

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