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Many eyes will be observing the Indian election

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 6 months ago

Many eyes will be watching the 2009 Indian general election, as the world’s largest democracy begins its month-long electoral process on April 16, 2009. The general elections to the 15th Lok Sabha will be held in five phases on April 16, April 22, April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 13, with results announced May 16.

A collaborative citizen-powered election monitoring platform called Vote Report India will allow users to report violations of the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct (PDF), by sending direct SMS, email, and web reports. Their reports will be aggregated with election-related news reports, blog posts, photos, videos and tweets, from all relevant sources, in one place, on an interactive map.

A non-partisan all-volunteer collaboration between software developers, designers, academics, and other professionals, Vote Report india was launched April 6, 2009. It is powered by two path-breaking non-profit open-source projects — Ushahidi and SwiftRiver — and managed by eMoksha, a non-profit organization that works to strengthen democracies through increased citizen awareness and engagement.

Ushahidi, developed last year by Kenyan bloggers to track post-election violence, is an award-winning platform that crowd-sources crisis information and has become a robust crisis reporting platform (it partnered with Al Jazeera during the Gaza conflict, for example). SwiftRiver makes sense of multiple sources of information in a crisis situation, making it possible to manage much higher volumes of data through automating and crowd-sourcing the filter.

In an April 7th blog post, Gaurav Mishra explains that Vote Report India came into existence as a reaction to the November 26 Mumbai terrorist attack. Two Ushahidi members, Chris Blow and Kaushal Jhalla, had begun thinking about building SwiftRiver, and Gaurav, who had been thinking about how to use a Ushahidi-like tool in the Indian elections, had been in touch with Kaushal ever since the Mumbai attack.

A series of happy coincidences brought it all together, says Gaurav. Ushahidi decided March 21 to build SwiftRiver by combining features from Ushahidi and VoteReport. A week later, when Gaurav asked if they would be interested in doing an Ushaidi/SwiftRiver installation for the Indian elections, they customized the platform for Vote Report India. On April 4, he and two others who had created an Ushahidi installation at Free Fair Elections decided to pool their resources, and Vote Report India was launched April 6, within 10 days of the first email.

Ushahidi says this will be the first time its system is used in the workup to an election. Swift River, it says, seeks to do two things that are crucial both for Ushahidi and for many future emergency response activities. First, it gathers as many possible streams of data about a particular crisis event as possible. Second, using a two-part filter, that stream of data is filtered through both machine based algorithms and humans to better understand the veracity and importance of any piece of information.


   Indians can send in reports four ways, by

  1. SMS to 5676785
  2. Email to report@votereport.in
  3. Twitter with #votereport
  4. Online via web form


This article was prepared from a number of blog posts: About Vote Report India on the Vote Report India website; The Story Behind Vote Report India: Citizen-Powered Election Monitoring, April 7, 2009, Gaurav Mishra;  Vote Report India, a collaborative citizen-powered election monitoring platform for Indian goes LIVE, April 11, 2009 Citizen Africa; and Vote Report India Launches, Ushahidi.


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