Rate Your Politician

Published on: 09/02/2009
Rate Your Politician has the mission to become the global market leader in the use of the Internet and information technology to collect high quality, in-depth data on public opinion, voter trends and market research; providing people, companies, politicians, educational institutions and political parties with a greater view of the countries public opinion. Rate Your Politician has developed a web platform which encourages accountability and effectiveness in government, increasing people's access to accurate, real time information about government and public opinion. By promoting active citizenship and encouraging people to express themselves and connect with others with shared interests. We encourage citizens in democratic nations to take action on what matters to them and we give them the e-democracy tools to organise and interact. Rate Your Politician is engaged in developing an e-participation framework at the local, regional, national and International levels that allow people to come together from different community backgrounds and different religious faiths to, make informed choices, and take action on the issues that matter to them. We promote transparency, accountability, and trust across media and government. New technologies, particularly the Internet technologies, provide a useful mechanism for engaging with young people. Young people are largely a disenfranchised group in society that can be reached through new understandings in social informatics. Although youth are quick to uptake online tools, providing these tools is not sufficient to engage young people in the democratic decision making process in their country. Rate Your Politician aims to address these issues. This has resulted in the development of the UK and Ireland's high-level national public stages, which situate online dialogues, active rating and debating in a much broader, supporting framwork. Our work will continue to research ways of developing online consultation tools that are both used and useful in society.

Policy Context

Major Legal Frameworks Data Protection Act Freedom of Information Act -- ISO 9001:2000 ISO 27001

Description of target users and groups

All citizens, mainly the electorate, although we are engaged in developing a programme to work with schools and colleges to increase youth voter turnout.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The project consists of a web platform for each country, initially we are launching the UK and Ireland. This will be followed with a European wide web platform. We started as a privately own organisation, students, we have limitied funding so everything we do has to be in small steps. So far it has take 10 months to develop the web infrastructure for the UK and Ireland. We built our e-particpation framework on opensource technology, we also use proprietary technology to mange risk and help better secure are software products and services. We follow the ISO standards where possible. We are exploring different approaches on different countries to see which way is the best. We use the agile software development with opensource frameworks and proprietary technology.

Technology solution

We adopted the DotNetNuke Opensource framework as the foundation for the web platforms. The openess allows everyone to inspect the source code and easily extend. The DotNetNuke framework is a slightly different opensource web framework it was not developed using PHP or Ruby on Rails, it was developed with Microsofts ASP.NET. This mixture of opensource and proprietary technology blends well. A good robust well developed mature framework which gives a solid foundation to build upon. Although the DNN web framework can work with different data sources we have chosen to go with Microsofts SQL Server. This choice was based on the easy interoperability between ASP.NET and SQL SERVER. Also ASP.NET, SQL SERVER and Microsoft Server Operating Systems all complement each other. Adopting the Microsoft technology and working with the excellent DotNetNuke opensource web framework allows the developers to implement Microsofts best practices and reduces development times considerablity while delivering a rich interactive experience. Thoughout the framework XML, XHTML and SQL are a few of the technologies used. Working with Microsoft technologies allows for a consistent development environment for web, desktop, database and enterprise applications. Technology choice: Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

Social impact is integral to the Rate Your Politician business model. As a private organisation providing a shared space where citizens can rate politicans and debate the topics that matter most to them as well has have the tools to organise and take action in formal democratic decision making processes. The benefits to society are far greater than the costs to maintain the service. Increased accountability of politicans, with consistent public opinion tracking. Greater accuray of public opinion, raw data as well as scientifc polling data. Increased citizen-government interaction, new social medium to interface with your politician and new medium for politicans, political parties and government to interact with the electorate. Greater transparency in how politicans and government operate. A new shared space for citizens in democratic countries to come together and get involved in combating real world issues that matter to them. Increased voter turnout and engagement in formal democratic decision making processes, and the possibility of reversing the decline of youth voter turnout. A more modern interactive, clearer and simpler way to contact your politician, ask questions and receive answers. See the results of public opinion in real time. For the first time their will be an independant web platform that can capture a countries public opinion and display that data in real time. This can be compared with traditional polling results and other polling companies to really access the public opinion of a country.

Return on investment

Return on investment: €500-999,000

Track record of sharing

We are only starting, we will seek to build strong relationships in the community, in government and across all sections of society. We are actively engaged in promoting the web platforms to local politicans and charites.

Lessons learnt

So far we have learned that the amount of Information to handle, access and intergrate is immense. The development of well defined buiness processes help to streamline the large volumes of data. Developing software systems that follow standards minimizes risk. We have indentified a democratic deficit in the youth of most industrialised nations like the UK, US and Canada. Equally we have seen an explosion in social networks and social media that was widely and quickly embraced by young people. We have indentified a niche area where technology can inject the young peoples focus back into the formal democratic decision making processes that surround them. We have learned that choosing the right technology can help you acheive your goals with ease. Scope: International