Project by: 

Christine Sikule; Miguel Amador; Lisa Jenkins; Laurel Stokes

High Concept Statement: 

Become more active in local politics!

Platform:

Android Phone

Category:

Education

Need or Demand:

Since the November 2016 election, more people than ever are interested in participating in their local politics. It is surprisingly difficult to find information regarding the political constituents and meetings on a local level, and most voters just tend to vote according to their party line without knowing all of the issues. In a time where the political landscape is changing and more people want to get involved, it is more important than ever to know where your local politicians stand on controversial topics and what your community is voting on. KnowledgeIsPower is an app that allows insight into the political landscape of your community, showing the platform, past decision-making of previously elected officials, and allows you to become more fully involved by directly messaging your constituents and reminders about upcoming meetings where you can participate and become more involved. This will allow for more transparency into the process and can help members of the community become more active and informed.

Product / Service / Solution:

KnowledgeIsPower solves this issue in the following ways:
– It contains profiles of each elected official and those running for office. We would like this app to be fact-based and for information only, not a venue for debate. It will be a source to help you determine who your candidate should be according to your own views.
Because this information is not currently centralized and difficult to obtain using a scaleable process, we propose working with local organizations and utilizing a wiki-like community with the ability to edit profiles with strict vetting and approval before officially posting. The profiles will be vetted and approved for facts by designated reviewers that can indicate if the information has been checked. Anyone in the community can create a profile for a candidate running for an office, with biographical information, stances, and past performance. This information can be changed/updated by a validated candidate. In addition, towns and counties will have the ability to upload their election information quickly and easily.
– KnowledgeIsPower allows you to create a private profile with your own views to show you how you match up to those running for election. Users can easily and quickly view who they most closely align with and help with deciding who to vote for. A simple quiz on what you believe for certain issues will give you instant feedback on who you most closely align with.
– The app provides a simple way to contact your representative(s). As you come across issues, you can send messages to your elected officials directly through the app, either through your own message or a form letter. Let them know you want your voice heard!
– It contains a feed of news pertaining to the community. As issues are voted on and meeting minutes become available, the app allows users to become more informed about what is happening.
You can vote on issues and reports will be sent to your reps to show them what their constituents want.
– The app provides users with a community calendar with upcoming meeting dates/times and maps of where to vote per zip code. To help members become more involved, it’s important to give them the information about upcoming meetings. You can RSVP to events and receive reminders to make sure you are aware of the what’s going on in your community.
– A way to set up and vote on smaller, community-based elections such as co-op boards or student council elections. Organizations can use the app to set up an election and allow users to vote directly via the app. It tracks the votes and gives the results.

Value Proposition:

The app allows users to quickly and easily become more involved in their local politics. They can see the issues, correspond with their officials to allow their voice to be heard, and become informed about upcoming events. Users will want to use this app for all of their election processes, from state to student council elections. It will be the go-to source for information regarding candidates, issues, and what’s going on in the community. Reminders to vote and attend meetings, as well as a continual news feed with local information, will engage users and keep them coming back often.
This app not only gives voters more access and transparency into the political process, it also allows for more digitized historical data that will be helpful in the future. By tracking and helping communities store their data, it will allow everyone more access to better information. Politicians and local governments and agencies will find this incredibly helpful in the future.

Competition:

Voter
Created for the 2016 election, this app is a Tinder for the election. It asks you questions about your political views and matches you with your candidate. It is only for the national level candidate and was only for 2016.

Brigade
Social media platform that allows users to start policy discussion and engages members through surveys, group chats, and discussion topics. This is again focused on a national level.

Facebook
Facebook recently unveiled a new feature for political candidate pages to display their stances on issues. You still need to find who is running within your community, which is another step. In addition, those running have to enter this information, so it can potentially be biased and not give the full picture of the candidate’s history.

Vote Smart
A comprehensive website that shows politician biographical information and voting history. This is a respected, independent source for information surrounding national politics. This is again focused on a national level and does not delve into the county-level positions. A partnership may be beneficial.

Revenue Model:

To create a trusted environment for political information, we would want to keep the space ad-free. However, we hope to raise funds from a variety of sources:

League of Women Voters: As an organization dedicated to encouraging active and informed participation of citizens in government, this would be the ideal partner for our app. Many of the chapters do keep some of this information already, but it is not consistent and not always fully developed. They have chapters all across the US and would be a great resource for vetting the information supplied to the app.
Towns and districts: Many towns and districts already have websites with much of this information available as downloadable documents or scanned images. We’d work with them to optimize this information and make it more digital-friendly. Towns and districts will want to invest in this technology, which helps us gain access to candidate information and keep it for the future.
News Resources: News sources would pay a nominal fee to get their content republished on this app and drive traffic to their information.
Community Voting: A small subscription fee can be applied for those using the app for setting up their own election.

Measures of success include the number of users and an increase in political activism within a community. We’d want to track the voter turn out before and after the app was implemented, as well as attendance at local events.