by Steve Beasant on 1 March, 2011
A new social network website which gives people a direct line to local politicians is rolling out nationwide after a successful pilot in the North East.
Digital Democracy automatically puts users in touch with others in the same area, letting them band together to vote on issues and get their voices heard.
Liberal Democrat MEP for North East England Fiona Hall was involved in the early stages of the project when it was tested in Durham last year and she welcomes the national rollout.
Fiona Hall said, “Anything that increases the ease with which people can participate in politics and engage with their local community is to be encouraged. Hopefully this website can help politicians stay in touch with the grassroots concerns of the people they represent.
“One of its advantages is that it facilitates discussion among local users on the ideas and issues proposed, so you get a broad range of opinions and perspectives.
Jonathan Elmer, from Durham City, created the website and has secured the funding for the national rollout.
Jonathan said, “I started Digital Democracy because I was fed up with how little say our communities have over the decisions that affect our everyday lives.
“Digital Democracy lets you put your ideas directly to the people who make the decisions and challenges them to respond to the issues that YOU decide are the most important.
“Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing pictures and gossip, but it’s about time we had a social network designed to be part of our political system.”
The website launches on March 1st at www.digitaldemocracy.org.uk
Digital Democracy is a virtual parliament where members directly participate in identification, prioritisation and voting on the most popular proposal. In particular:
• When you become a member, Digital Democracy uses your postcode to generate a personal profile showing your political constituency and MP;
• Every member is able to make one proposal every month. You see this listed against the proposals made by others from your constituency;
• Digital Democracy generates a discussion forum specific to your proposal. It then makes sure that you are able to discuss issues with other members from your constituency;
• You get to promote the proposals that you think are most important, and every month Digital Democracy identifies your communities most popular proposal;
• At the end of the month the whole constituency votes on the top proposals and this auto-generates a report that goes straight to the appropriate MP who is invited to respond on the site;
• Digital Democracy has social networking capabilities that enables members to send messages, make friends and create groups;
• Digital Democracy includes a feature which assesses your political compatibility with other users. You can use this to get a list of people within a set radius who are similar to you – invaluable if you are new in town.