Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
Powerline is an open feedback management platform that can be used in many different ways. Our goal is get democratic participation feedback from citizens to their elected leaders and community leaders in any and every kind of community that we can, both in the United States and abroad. We want leaders to have the tools they need to collect feedback from their constituents and citizens to have the tools they need to speak up in meaningful and effective ways. By combining citizen feedback with their user profile demographics information, users don't need to enter all the other fields that so often lengthen the feedback provision process (but leaders still get all that beneficial information). The changes we're supporting depends on the application of the system - a school principal with parents, a CEO with workers, a club with members, a mayor with residents, etc. Regardless of its application, we hope leaders, institutions, and communities are more responsive and accountable to their members through greater democratic participation. We also hope citizens feel more empowered to take ownership and initiative in driving the change they want in their communities with technology purposely designed to balance leader-led change with leaderless movements, prioritize the leader-constituent relationship, and engage the traditionally-silent majority in the process.
If other, please specify
Can be used for any of above, but originally for democratic participation for understanding constituents and accountable leaders
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
There are many ways feedback can be collected with Powerline. Users and leaders both register on Powerline. Elected leaders or group leaders (schools, unions, non-profits, boards, etc.) can initiate occasional multiple-choice polls, one-touch petitions, or discussions that are sent just to their specific constituents/members as a push notification (vibration/sound alert). With the mobile app (and soon website), users can respond to the alert with minimal effort. Users (citizens) can also initiate their own "micropetitions" in a community group that others can agree/disagree with. If the micropetition reaches a tipping point, it is boosted out to all members of the community to agree/disagree with. Reports show leaders, the public, and the media what constituents are saying (depending on whether the community is public like a town, or private like a union). In aggregate, user responses can be paired with user profile data (demographics, politics, interests, etc.) for further analysis. The primary delivery mechanism through the app is designed to simplify the citizen-user's participation and the feedback process. The leader control panels are designed to give leaders the tools they need, in one place, for feedback management. In the future, polls and petitions may be embedded in third-party websites for additional visibility and participation. We also plan on introducing a leader ratings and review system after we reach a critical mass.
If other, please specify
Different options exist depending on the group. Responses and posts can be made anonymously
If other, please specify
Visible feedback in public reports; points and other gamification elements planned for future
If other, please specify
Additionally, every group's members are automatically connected to elected leaders as well
If other, please specify
Also available in anonymous aggregate
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
Since our pilots have only recently started, there are two concrete examples of planned feedback loops which we would like to highlight that exist currently in the market in what we believe to be immature states. First are online petition platforms. The goal of the online petition is to gather support from fellow citizens on an issue and deliver that "public pressure" to an elected official and, sometimes, within a semi-private community (e.g. an apartment high-rise). There are a few problems with online petitions. First, leaders never know how many of the signatures are real constituents versus someone else's constituents. Second, petition signature signing is a multi-step process that requires the same meta-data each time (and becomes annoying over time). Third, the signatures are not always presented in naturally-organized, reportable way that encourages leadership accountability by the public and media. Finally, organizational signature collectors (including leaders themselves) rely on multi-step processes to get their own members to support issues. Powerline addresses these issues with push petitions and one-touch signing that enables user profiles to be automatically associated with signatures so that aggregate reports can show how many signatures are one leader's versus another. Powerline also introduces the additional concept of the micropetition which reduces the "campaign" nature of a traditional petition and helps sentiment feedback be collected and provided via a shorter, more organic process.
The other planned feedback loop that requires more maturity is the traditional polling system. A few problems exist here as well. First, anyone who participates in a poll is not giving feedback to their leaders; they're giving feedback to someone else who asked the question. In the same way that petition signatures aren't organized for leadership accountability, polling responses aren't usually sorted to encourage leadership accountability either (ever see X% of poll respondents were Governor Christie's vs Governor McAuliffe's?). Powerline helps address this problem at its source and includes more people in the process while still enabling statistical sample analysis. Second, polling lags the public conversation. In government situations, the nation (and to a lesser extent the media) are at the will of the polling companies to talk about the issues that are emerging. Powerline's "boosting" system helps popular micropetitions and some types of petitions get automatically sent to everyone in a community once a tipping point is reached. This helps not only engage the entire community (in public or private settings), but effectively allows the citizenry to create their own mass polls with enough support. Again, thanks to the reporting element, a boosted micropetition in the USA community, for example, would be presented to the general public by elected leader and/or geographical area, once again enabling greater leadership accountability.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
We're constantly trying to figure out ways to strengthen the feedback loops Powerline enables. With that said, the Powerline ecosystem was designed using systems and critical theory to simultaneously serve elected leaders, civil society organization leaders, citizens, the media, and communities of all kinds through an integrated infrastructure. In order to strengthen democracy and civil society, it is open and accessible, prioritizes leader-constituent relationships, and simplifies civic engagement. The most significant challenge we face is getting people signed up. Powerline is designed to serve both activists and concerned citizens simultaneously. For example, leader-driven content (like new polls, petitions, etc.) is received as a push notification alert (vibration/sound) by citizens with simple friction-less user experience design; this helps keep people engaged after they register even if they aren't activists constantly browsing around the app. Even if someone signed up primarily to interact with a membership group, they are still connected automatically to their elected leaders. However, it does not guarantee that people register on the platform in the first place. We are hoping that, due to the platform's appeal to leaders, that citizens will join upon receiving a request from some leader in their life. If we could change one thing to increase the impact of our feedback loop, it would be to increase Powerline's visibility to leaders and citizens. We know our system provides value - a few hundred citizens and dozens of elected leaders and civil society organizations know there's promise in what we're working on. We've got to get it developed to the appropriate level of maturity and then we need to get visibility. This visibility is the number one most important thing we can do to increase the impact of the Powerline feedback loops regardless of which communities use the system and how they use it.
A missing answer choice was "Yes, I am aware but not on it". It's helpful for leaders/organizations and activists looking for feedback tools.
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
More clarity on the connections with the sponsoring institutions and their networks and how that might help entrants beyond the grand prize winner. More clarity on general feedback loops vs specific feedback loops.
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?
Helping them understand their privacy in-the-moment and what data is being shared beyond the tap / comment they are making. It is a work in progress as we are trying to make sure we don't discourage user participation as a result of any extra steps.