Democracy works best when everyone's voice is heard - not just a loud minority.
How can grassroots groups locate unregistered voters to increase voter participation? How can canvassing campaigns span both registered and unregistered voters? How can volunteers conduct surveys? How can this be done quickly by underfunded and under-staffed groups?
Innovative, affordable solutions.
The best innovations come from frontline grassroots groups sharing their needs with technologists to convert them into solutions. Frugal innovation saves time and money by adapting existing technologies, rather than re-inventing the wheel. This blog highlights how grassroots groups led to innovations to:
- Locate unregistered voters
- Identify areas with the most likely supporters
- Canvass people on any list of addresses (and not just a voter file)
- Display the data to make it easier for organizers to adapt canvassing plans
- Get real time canvassing updates to avoid contacting the same house twice
- Enhance deep canvassing by making it easy to see notes from prior interactions
- Export the data collected for use in other applications such as the VAN or mailing programs
- Make canvassing affordable so more volunteers can be engaged
- Streamline the allocation of houses for each volunteer to canvass (turf cutting)
- Design better walking routes so canvassers can meet more people in less time
Frugal grassroots innovation
Grassroots groups face entrenched groups with more money and armies of consultants. How can grassroots groups use technology as a force for good, rather than a tool for spreading disinformation and gerrymandering?
- Organizers know what's needed but aren't usually technology experts.
- Many technologists are keen to help, but don't have a clear understanding of what's needed.
- Canvassing solutions have to be continually updated and last longer than an election cycle.
Solutions have to be able to cope with employee and volunteer turnover.
What's the answer? Close collaboration between grassroots groups and technology experts who apply existing software to meet their needs. This cuts the time and cost needed to roll out solutions, and ensures that they solutions will be available even as organizers, volunteers and technologists change.
This canvassing solution comes from collaboration between several grassroots groups and DemLabs. It is based on ArcGIS Online software from esri, a multi-billion dollar, fifty year old firm with thousands of users around the world. The innovation here isn't in developing new software, but translating the needs of grassroots groups into a solution that uses the power of ArcGIS Online. Learn more here.
Frugal innovation for Democracy
"Because that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes you have to find a way to beat someone who’s bigger, stronger, newer, and in every way better than you are. You haven’t got time to design and build the perfect solution. So you have to bodge together a quick fix that will solve the problem in the short term. And, when they’re any good, humans can out-think equipment. It’s called a bodge, but another name for it is creativity.
Or, as Ernest Rutherford said: “Gentlemen, we have no money, we shall have to think.” - Dave Trott