FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2016

Contact: Stacia Momburg
805-459-8392; smomburg@calpoly.edu 

Digital Democracy Platform Launches New Interactive Features for 2016

Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy adds new features to their open government platform including floor sessions, proactive email alert system, custom video editing

The Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy (IATPP) at Cal Poly today launched new features to its online platform Digital Democracy. The new features include the addition of floor sessions to the searchable archive, an email alert system, organization profiles, and custom video storing and editing capabilities. The aim of the features is to enhance and expand Digital Democracy’s efficacy and make California state government more transparent and accessible to its citizens, and provide broader opportunities to improve civic engagement.

“Digital Democracy is at the cutting edge of open and accountable government,” said Sam Blakeslee, IATPP’s founding director and former state senator. “Our new 2016 features make it even easier for the public to meaningfully track and influence their issues and electeds.”

Digital Democracy was built by Cal Poly students and faculty at the IATPP. The online platform uses voice and facial recognition technology, data mining and natural language processing to provide Californians access to state legislative policy hearings and floor sessions. The GoogleTM-like search functionality allows users to identify key capitol players and their connections to campaigns, interest groups and other legislative actions. This first-of-its-kind online tool uses 21st century technology to open California’s government and empower all citizens with a voice in Sacramento.

Digital Democracy 2016 features:

Addition of Floor Sessions:
Once legislation has passed specific policy committees, bills are next debated and voted on in wider floor sessions that include the entire elected body of both the Senate and the Assembly. Digital Democracy currently provides users the ability to search specific legislative testimony within Senate or Assembly policy committees. The new feature provides the public the ability to apply the same search and content export capabilities to floor sessions.

Proactive Email Alert System:
The IATPP team developed an email alert system that allows users to create a free Digital Democracy account, enter the keywords, phrases, bills, and/or speakers they want to follow, and receive an email notification when new video content is added to the site matching their specific criteria.

Custom Video Editing and Archiving:
By creating a free Digital Democracy account, users can create custom video clips of the key moments of interest. These clips are saved and stored the user’s private account, and can be quickly and easily shared through social media or embedded in a website or newsletter.

Organization Profiles
In addition to being able to search hearing videos, users are able to navigate content organized by speaker or bill by viewing individual profile pages. The new organization profile pages now allow users to view also testimony offered by representatives of an interest group. The collection of videos displays the bill on which the organization testified and their position on the legislation.

“Digital Democracy helps open the doors to the Capitol to our members across California. By being able to track the policy dialogue in Sacramento, the public — and our members — have more opportunity to engage and make their voices heard by their elected representatives,” said Bismarck Obando, director of public affairs for the League of California Cities.

Funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation, Digital Democracy allows anyone to track and share video clips of arguments being put forward as new laws are being crafted, who is in the room influencing major decisions at the state level, how their elected officials are voting, and what patterns can be observed in their words and actions.

About the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy
Under the guidance of founding director and former state senator Sam Blakeslee, the nonpartisan, interdisciplinary organization’s mission is to develop practical solutions to societal issues by informing and driving public policy through advanced technology. Teams of Cal Poly faculty and students, together with public policy leaders and industry experts build technology solutions to pressing real world problems.

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