I am very proud to show you an online dispute resolution tool (ODR) created in Madrid, Spain, my family country: Sistema Electrónico de Mediación y Arbitraje para personas con DISCapacidad. This platform was developed by teachers from Charles III University. You can watch the video of the presentation of SEMADISC which is in Castilian.
For non speakers and others, let me translate. After a short definition of what mediation and arbitration are, Pr. Carmen Barranco from the Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas underlines the support of information and communication technology (ICT) in the development of this tool. It actually deals with the way to solve disputes throughout the web. Thus came the expression “online dispute resolution”. Then, Miguel Ángel Patricio from Applied Artificial Intelligence Group explains what is SEMADISC – Electronic system of mediation and arbitration for disabled people. In fact, it is a platform which welcomes disputants, mediators and observers. You can use either mediation or arbitration, but virtually, through the platform. The main goal of the project is to allow everybody, including disabled people, to solve their disputes freely, anonymously and autonomously. SEMADISC is an ODR tool which helps to solve disputes from the real world with a virtual platform.
Virtual relationships with an automatised platform
I have seen “Up in the air”. This movie arouses in my mind many questions about the virtualization of the relationships and it reminds me of online dispute resolution tools.
It deals with an American subcontractor whose job is to announce people they are fired. He moves all around the United States to meet the next soon-to-be jobless people at their office. One day, he learns that every dismissal will be announced by video conference. He is opposed to this idea for he considers that relationships in face to face contribute to make a good job. For example, real relationships allow managing emotions of the dismissed employees, then, a physical presence may be necessary to get a meeting under control. On the other hand, the proofs of empathy, which do not show well on a webcam, are key elements to the success of this kind of relationship.
The movie isn’t Manichaean and does not tell us what is wrong or right between virtual relationships via video conference or real relationship, but shows unresolved issues in this matter.
What the university has to say
Haitham A. Haloush and Bashar H. Malkawi are teachers from Jordan. They present in their article Internet characteristics and online alternative dispute resolution some of the advantages of automatised platforms in order to resolve conflicts relatively to face-to-face mediation.
- Tensions cool down
Parties’ tension tends to decrease and to make easier the development of the negotiation thanks to the distance between them. Moreover, the comfort of their home might pacify the conversation and prevent them from having heated discussions.
- Development of an awareness of reflexive approach
The parties take the time to considerate the options before sending their email. They don’t have to give their answers quickly : the discussions are asynchronous.
The e-mediator preserves his neutrality in the treatment of each party thanks to the distance created by the screen of the computer.
The data, the number, the rate
With 3 000 cases, the vast majority were resolved by the system or in direct negotiation between disputing parties.
In less than 15% of cases the assistance of a mediator was needed.
Approximatively 80% of the users indicate that they would willing to use ODR again in the future.