Thank you for your question, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
There are two parts. I can assure you that we meet with the Translation Bureau on a weekly basis, sometimes daily even, to discuss the status of the committee rooms. We developed a five-part action plan with the bureau last fall. Our representatives have been meeting with the union over the past few months, as well as with the interpreters and the bureau. We're keeping them up to speed.
With respect to the report, I would like to provide a bit of background so that everyone understands the dynamics. To do that, I'm going to take a step back, because I want everyone to understand.
When we talk about the hybrid system in the House of Commons, we're talking about three things. First, there's the in-person conferencing system, which is the system you're using right now, in the committee rooms and in the House. This system was developed over the years by international experts and it's been tested to ensure that it meets the ISO standard for in-person conferencing systems similar to the one you're using right now. The latest ISO standard came out in 2020.
I can assure you that our systems meet the ISO standard, in both the committee rooms and the House. In most cases, they even exceed the standard in some respects, because the standard takes several things into account, such as interpreting booths, consoles, microphones and sound quality, which involves several criteria. As we know, we checked these systems in 2019, which was before the pandemic, and you've been using them ever since. We received very few complaints prior to the pandemic, and we haven't made any changes to them since the hybrid system was implemented in these systems. Two years ago, to allow witnesses or MPs to attend remotely, we chose a videoconferencing technology platform, Zoom. So we have two standalone systems: the in-person conferencing system and the videoconferencing system.
Then we have a third system that acts as a bridge between those two systems to transmit information from one side to the other. So that's how I would explain the hybrid system in the simplest of terms. It's much more complex than that, but it relies on those three systems.
As for the second part, the videoconferencing system, there is no ISO standard right now, Mrs. DeBellefeuille. We're trying to apply the ISO standard for in-person conferencing systems to a virtual environment. Many of the environmental factors of these systems are completely different. That's why the National Research Council report doesn't apply to some things. I will go over each of them with you, without going into too much detail.
The NRC regularly produces reports for us. When we set up complex systems like the ones we use here in the committee rooms, we always bring in third parties to evaluate them and ensure that they meet our quality objective and standards. We did that when we set up the systems in the House in 2019 and when we set them up in the committee rooms. We also do it for hybrid meetings. This was the second time we used the NRC to check the performance of our systems.
The NRC report was commissioned by the Translation Bureau, not the House of Commons, and that's to be expected, because the bureau wanted to protect its interpreters and make sure we provide them with quality tools. This is common practice, as I mentioned earlier, and we supported the bureau throughout the process. People from the NRC were therefore hired by the Translation Bureau, they came to the House of Commons and we gave them the technical information about the configuration of our systems. Then they tested the House systems, including the Zoom videoconferencing system to determine if the sound quality was suitable for the interpreters. Five things came out of the report.
First, they wanted to confirm that the significant investments we had made in early 2022 to protect the interpreters from acoustic shock had paid off. The answer was yes, they had.
Second, they wanted to know if the House's in-person conferencing systems were ISO compliant. The answer was no. We completely disagreed, as we've done tests in the past and we know that the systems were ISO compliant. We met with the NRC and gave them our comments. However, I didn't go there to influence their report. I explained the facts and we looked into it. They found things that raised questions in our minds about how the data was gathered. There may have been errors, but we just want to check that information, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
We've hired people in the past to test our in-person conferencing systems and ensure that they met the ISO standard. They did, and we assume they still do. So, we figured we needed to have the AA rating confirmed by a third party. If people tell me the system isn't up to par, I want to know for sure. We therefore hired a firm to make sure our systems are ISO compliant.
At first glance, based on the information they gathered, our systems meet the ISO standard. There's a difference of opinion between the two organizations. Given that, the next step is to get our experts and their experts together to discuss why they have different opinions and different data, because we're unable to replicate some of the data provided to us in the NRC report.
Third, some said there were notches in the audio system. I don't want to get into too many technical terms, but essentially, notches are sound distortion that the interpreters hear. We're unable to reproduce these notches in the tests conducted with our experts. We have to talk to the NRC and ask them about it. However, I can't do that until I have that checked.
Fourth, they evaluated the headphones for us. We asked them to do that, because we didn't want to just make a recommendation. You asked me if there was any testing. The NRC looked into that, as did the Translation Bureau, and we chose the headphones together. That was one of the recommendations to move forward.
The fifth thing that led us to hire an outside firm was that the NRC identified in their data a loss of frequency in the virtual system. As I said earlier, there are three systems. Zoom does not provide all the auditory frequencies that the ISO standard requires for in-person conferencing systems. We said we agreed with that. We worked with Zoom to resolve it, and Zoom corrected the issue in January.
On the other hand, the report also pointed out issues with sound intelligibility. That would mean that people in the room right now, for example, should have trouble understanding what we're saying to each other. We didn't agree, so we asked outside experts to check the intelligibility of the sound emitted by our systems. We asked the chair of the international committee, who is interested in sound intelligibility, to check the quality of our systems, and according to him, our systems meet and exceed the standard in terms of sound intelligibility.
So we need to have a discussion with the Translation Bureau, because first of all, we also want to share our results with them. As always, we'll be forthcoming with the interpreters, so we will share the results with them as well. I also want to talk to the NRC to reconcile these differing opinions. I'm not going to tell you who's right and who's wrong. As you know, in situations like this, we must take care not to damage anyone's credibility. We want to do the right thing for the interpreters and for Parliament. I want to make sure that everything is based on facts, not opinions. If mistakes were made, we'll find them and discuss them, and then we'll come back here and present the outcome of discussions we've had with them, so we can all agree on everything.
We've already shared this information with the Translation Bureau, Mrs. DeBellefeuille. We have nothing to hide. We take the comments and criticism that some have of our systems very seriously, and I can assure you that we do disagree on some aspects.