Democracy is founded on the idea of participating citizens. Through elections we can hold accountable our political authorities on the basis of what we consider important.
Many organizations from the civil society have made progress in providing better information to the public in order to exercise a vigilance over politicians, given that they do not always pursue the common interest.
They are thorough in reporting the integrity of political actors and in setting the due amount of suspicion that every citizen must have towards authority.
Under this perspective politicians should be transparent, upright and work towards the wellbeing of the community. While this perspective accountability is paramount, we believe it is important to make progress in another area of accountability. One that demonstrate the capabilities and coherence of the political elite while occupying public office.
We want to know if the political actors deliver what they promise or if there is a coherence between what they say and the results. To answer those questions, we need to be provided political information.
We define this concept as the information that descends from the political system, that reveals its goals, capacity and coherence. We need to know the objectives of our candidates, as well as the capacity they have to accomplish them and how consistent with those objectives their actions are. Additionally, we distinguish between two types of political information:
News information, defined as the continuous narrative of political events. Management information, which refers to information of political actors and political institutions that essentially reveals their performance. Without proper political information, we lack mechanisms to reasonably assess our authorities. Most important, political information is needed to improve our decision-making process as citizens.
The problem of political information is that there are multiples sources producing it, for both, news and management. The websites of secretaries and national statistics institutes among
many others vary in their logic, interfaces and methodology, resulting in high costs for consumption. The logical conclusion of this reality is that, the higher the cost, the lower its consumption.
This project aims to solve the problem of political information. Mainly by applying a process we call systematization of political information.
This process revolves around three key ideas:
Unify, Organize and Massify
Firstly, it is necessary to unify the information scattered among many sources. It is produced by institutions such as central banks, national statistical institutes, secretaries, regional governments, parliaments, NGO, etc.
A characteristic of this information is that it is public, in the sense that it is available for consumption to anyone. The problem is its dispersion.
Second, is required to organize the information, giving it a structure that enhances its understanding. The organization involves using various criteria, including: academic, methodological, continuity, comparability and many others.
It is in this process of organization where two fundamental entities are identified: political actors on one hand and observable effects on the other. Within political actors we include all entities that have agency power, ie, ability to perform actions. This entity includes congressman, secretaries, presidents, mayors as well as political parties, executive power, legislative power, etc. It’s both, people and institutions. While in observable effects we include indicators, constitutional bills and public policies. Thus, we are able to associate political actors with their respective observable effects. In other words, to observe someone doing something.
And finally, we need to massify information, that is, to inform a greater number of users everything that has been explained in the above processes. Political information consumption is ultimately the essential point that indicates the success of the project.
People or institutions with agency power.
Data that reveals real effects on society such as Constitutional Bills, Indicators and Public Policy.
The means by which we solve the problem of political information is technology. Being one of the objectives a higher consumption of political information, the internet and software development allows us to bring the information to as many people as possible.
The solution then is to systematize political information and apply software technology to extend its reach. We conceive a service that develops in two main areas:
A Unified DataBase
The database unifies data from disperse sources, both national and international. Thus, a single database contains information from sources such as the central bank, secretaries, national statistics institutes, think tanks, as long as they are of a public nature. By unifying these sparse sources, we reduce the cost of political information.
By having a consolidated database, the data displayed are always the same and there is no risk of variation on the information displayed. There is a common methodology for each measurement of a datum. It provides a temporal and methodological consistency.
By applying selection criteria, indicators and data displayed in the interface are of the highest quality possible. The selection criteria allows us to get rid of redundant information.
The responsibility for the consistency and accuracy of the data lies with the builders of the database, of whom an expertise on the content is assumed. Just as indicators of Google Public Data are owned by another organization like the World Bank, United Nations, Eurostats, etc., the data of a alleged Google Politics come from this unified database.
By unifying methodologically comparable data, the database provides a better understanding of political information while planting the seeds to better governance.
The database feeds any interface
Different interfaces helps visualize organized information from DataBase
The purpose of our project is to lower the cost of political information, while transmitting academic knowledge to the masses.
We think that a comprehensive service in terms of political information must revolve around the following sections:
Political activity is a source of information. Day after day political actors perform actions or express opinions that are raw material for the media. Through the press we get a continuous narrative of recent political events, which ultimately are an important part of our knowledge as citizens of a democracy.
Although it is virtuous to have multiple sources of news information, past a threshold, the multiplicity can present problems. The access time to each of the sources and thematic redundancy, ie, repeated news are challenges to confront in this area.
It systematize management information. Unifies and organizes information from political actors and its association to indicators, bills and public policies.
The section access data previously organized and structured in an interface that facilitates learning, while transmitting academic concepts and ideas to the user.
The polity section allows us to put together pieces of information that are essential when holding political authority accountable. By having a broader frame of the relationship between political authority and their respective indicators, the services provides the user with better means to make decisions.
This sections lets the user explore the geographical dimension of politics, both at an indicator’s level, as well as a jurisdictional boundaries level of various political authorities.
It has the potential to become the hub of all geopolitical data.
This feature allows the user to become more aware of the geographical scope of political authority.
This section allows you to maintain a degree of control over the political information that is learned, by allowing tracking of news content, control notifications about certain political actors, the publishing of bills or the variation of indicators relevant to the user.
This feature allows the user to keep a record of the knowledge acquired on politics, as well as the automatization of the flow of information that is relevant to the user. It is important because it creates a bond between political activity and the user.
These four sections support all the spectrum of political information. For example, the News sections allows for a more qualitative type of information, providing tools for analysis and tracking. Both Polity and Geography incorporates a more quantitative approach which allows the user to be more aware of descriptive data.
And finally, the Account section creates a bond between the user and political activity, allowing him to keep track of the consumed information and automatizing future input.
If the final objective of political information is to be consumed by citizens, we believe it is necessary to attach it to a platform that already carries a numerous amount of users.
It is in this line that we have designed the functioning of such a service as if it was developed by a tech giant, in this particular case Google, although it could be any other.