Thursday, September 15, 2016

Democracy Day: Encouraging citizen participation

Carin Talero, Business Product Associate Manager at Smartmatic, played a key role during the “Tu Barrio Gana” initiative, where the company provided an e-voting solution on Chile.  
As a member of the team, Carin coordinated the activities of the management and operative teams.  She was also in charge of interacting directly with the client.
As we celebrate Democracy Day, we had a chance to ask Carin about this milestone.

How did you think the Chilean public received this technology?
The reception was very positive especially among senior voters who found that it was really easy to mark their choices directly on the screen. They told me that it was very convenient to validate their vote both on the screen and against the printed voucher the machines generate. 

How do you think Smartmatic promotes changes and improvements in democracies?
A project like this is a clear example of how technology can strengthen democracies. 
With “Tu Barrio Gana”, citizens were able to let the government know which things are really important to them.  The government, in turn, uses the citizen’s inputs to make the budget.  By including citizens in the crucial act of resource allocation, governance is made more inclusive.

Democracy is not just about electing a president every 4 or 5 years. Public consultation  is every bit as important in governance, and our technology is enabling all this to take place.

Another important contribution of technology is the generation of trust among the electors and the public at large.  Our technology guarantees to the voter and all other parties involved that the people’s will is respected. 

Personally, what do you take from this project?
I was pleasantly surprised that in Chile the population is consulted frequently about their budgetary priorities.  Ultimately, they are the ones who really know their needs.
Also, the level of organization shown by the population in this Chilean commune impressed me.  Different citizen organizations, social, sporting and educational ones, made proposals to give the population a voice.  This level of citizen empowerment speaks highly of Chilean democracy. 

Any anecdote you would like to share?
Our coworkers Larissa, Ivan and Mariana remember very fondly that in one of the poll stations at the end of the day, the municipal staff was ready with pencils and notebooks to count the votes and tally results, as they saw the machines generating and printing results immediately.  They were really, really surprised.  The representative of the organization that proposed the project which got the most votes was so happy that he hugged the machine, and told our coworkers that he wanted to congratulate the inventor. “Please say thanks to the creator”, he said. He didn’t think the count would be over so quickly, and he beamed while his people started celebrating with horns and whistles.

Carin Talero

Business Product Associate Manager

Friday, September 09, 2016

Health Month at Smartmatic Venezuela

I would like to use this space to share some fresh information with the members of the Smartmatic family about the activities taking place at our Venezuelan offices this September.  I am sure the schedule we have prepared will be beneficial to most, and will strengthen the values that we in HR try to instill into the whole company. 

It is important to highlight that we understand health from a holistically definition, comprising physical, mental and societal well-being, and not restricted to the absence of illnesses or health conditions. 

To cultivate a kind of integral health which covers these three dimensions, we will be carrying out the following activities during “Health Month”:

·         Lab tests and medical checkups Free lab tests and checkupswill be held in our offices, available to all employees.  This convenience will  spare us the trouble of booking appointments and having to leave the office. saving time and money to all of us. 

·         Safety and Emergency Procedures Workshops will prepare us to better face an emergency or an unexpected situation, which can save lives.  This is why we are setting up basic talks on workplace security, and workshops on emergency procedures and natural disasters.  

·         Sporting activities Everyone knows that exercising is key for physical health.  However, sporting activities such as Yoga, Pilates, Samba lessons,  Street Soccer and Kicking Ball matches go even further since they promote staff integration.  Spending time with colleagues out of the office is key to cultivating high-performing teams. 

We would like to finish by saying we are a family, and we can all contribute every day toward each other’s well-being, not only by spending time with our colleagues but also by participating in activities that will surely be good to our bodies, minds, and workplace relationships. 

Chila Rodríguez

Human Resources Lead

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Elections in the Philippines: the challenge of working away from home for the first time

Liski Ortega, Technology Deployment Applications Sr. Engineer and José Gregorio Camargo, Technology Deployment Applications Analyst, travelled for the first time to the Philippines from our office in Venezuela to be a part of  the largest elections with an electronic vote count in history

For both of them, the experience of working in the project represented a professional and personal challenge, in every way: working far away from home, hand in hand with a quality team to guarantee that voters could exercise their rights without any incidents. 

“A great personal and professional experience”

Lisk travelled to our office in the Philippines to be a part of the team in the National Technical Support Centre (NTSC), which provided support to the field staff deployed in the May 9th elections. 

Liski’s experience in the Accra office was a normal one. About her daily life, she tells us she “had the chance of going to Bonifacio Global City, especially to Bonifacio High Street, a boulevard with many places of interest”.

Of those days, she remembers the times spent with her Filipino colleagues, “a team of great human quality and highly trained” to make sure this election, which saw over 55 million voters, was successful.

Thanks to her labour at the NTSC, Liski also got to meet the Venezuelan ambassador in the Philippines, Capaya Rodríguez González. “We spent an afternoon with a person of good qualities and good energy. We spoke about Smartmatic’s experience in elections while we ate typical Venezuelan dishes halfway around the globe: dulce de leche, papelón con limón and tequeños”.

As to which Smartmatic HQ she prefers, Liski states that she likes Venezuela the most, although this experience of working in the Philippines was a “great personal and professional satisfaction, in every way”.  

Adapting to make an election successful
José Gregorio travelled for the first time to work at the NTSC for two months. The opportunity gave him the chance of meeting members of the Smartmatic family who “came from other HQs, full time employees and some hired in Manila”.

This time had to work tirelessly to conform to the project’s deadlines.  However, the day-to-day was “satisfactory, [although] there were times where we slept less than 8 hours so we could successfully meet all the stages in the timeline.  

Although the work was hectic, he had the chance to explore places near the office.  “I had the challenge of communicating in a different language and adapting to the customs of the language.  In a few weeks I explored their gastronomy and saw some places of interest”.  

After returning to Venezuela, José Gregorio has the pride of having participated in the third automated FIlipino election, knowing that “everyone could exercise their right to vote, with no incidents whatsoever”.