The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today launched a new set of web-based applications.
From the NDItech DemocracyWorks blog: Meet DemTools: Closing the Geek Gap
Human rights and democracy advocates in the developing world have been left stranded in this leap to more effective tools. There’s a new form of digital divide that’s emerged: call it the geek gap. There are a lot of sophisticated open source software systems out there, but free software is a bit like a free puppy: the problem ain’t the initial price, it’s the care and feeding over years. In low-infrastructure societies, there just aren’t a lot of people with the sophisticated systems administration skills to set up a Linux server, configure Apache, set up MySQL, and install a web application like Drupal. While there are great commercial options, struggling human rights organizations often can’t write the checks to keep those services running.
NDItech has been working on technology for development for over fifteen years, and we’ve seen the same problems manifest repeatedly. Sustainability in development is hard, and when it comes to tech it’s harder. Keeping the lights on – and web sites running – years after a project ends just doesn’t happen very often.
We’re attempting to cut that Gordian knot with DemTools: the Democracy Toolkit. We’re launching with a set of four web apps that solve some of the most common problems our global network of partners have experienced. DemTools development was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
- CONSTITUENT OFFICES MOVE ONLINE with CiviMP, a customized version of the popular open-source contact management system CiviCRM. Members of parliament (MPs) can keep in touch with constituents, listen to their concerns, and help solve their problems.
- ORGANIZE SUPPORTERS with CiviParty. Also based on CiviCRM, CiviParty allows civic organizations to organize events, contact or survey supporters via SMS, reach large audiences via blast email or printed mail merge, and track engagement.
- LEARN WHERE CANDIDATES STAND with The Issues, which presents candidates’ positions on the hot topics of the day via recorded YouTube videos and allows citizens to ask them questions directly. Citizens can engage in dialogue and share statements via social media, connecting voters directly to their political leaders and opening new avenues of communication.
- ANALYZE ELECTION INFORMATION with the NDItech Elections system, which can convincingly demonstrate the veracity of official results. NDI’s election data management system aggregates and manages reports submitted by text or telephone from trained observers at polling stations across a country. By analyzing the data instantaneously, election experts can spot trends, flag potential problems, and maintain easy, direct communication with observers in the field.
More about The Issues tool, which during the launch event earlier today was introduced as “a 21st-century debate platform” (emphasis mine):
LEARN WHERE CANDIDATES STAND with the NDItech Issues webapp, which presents candidates’ positions on key issues via recorded YouTube videos and allows citizens to ask them questions directly. Politicians’ video messages hone media presentation and communication skills. Citizens can “vote” with a thumbs up or down or engage in dialogue with comments. The candidates’ statements can also be shared via social media, enabling civic groups to connect voters directly to their political leaders and open new avenues of communication.
You can learn more about the toolkit on the NDItech DemocracyWorks website.