“No Office in this land is more important than that of being a citizen”
Civis.vote - Design of a civic engagement platform
Designing an online experience to encourage participation of the citizens in the legal & civil decision making processes for introducing acts and laws into the constitutional system.
Welcoming (waking up) the citizen
The citizen, upon landing on the website, greeted by a strong message which might compel someone to think immediately. 'Your turn, citizen' is a call-to-arms to every educated citizen to engage in the legal discourse that will shape their world in the very near future.
One of the challenges with a project such as Civis is the interest of citizens. Since the core subject is law, it comes across as complex to most people, given the obvious fact that legal text is complex, more often than not and is for that reason, not accessible.
One of the ways we tried to overcome this hurdle is by making accessible easily and visually, the core idea of the policy in question - the emotional connect of it with our daily lives. To this effect, we collaborated with Rohit Karandadi to create a set of illustrations for the main subjects under which the policies fall.
Every citizen's participation will really be very valuable and it needs to be commended at first (and become a regular feature in society hopefully soon) that the citizens are taking initiative to bring to the mainstream, conversations about 'boring' matters such a discussing public policy.
Making it all accessible
The key idea behind increasing participation from citizens is to simplify the complex reports and act proposals and documents and bring it to a level and language in which the 'commoner' citizens can get to dive even a bit deeper.
This is ideally done by an automated legal text summariser tool, in the absence of which a human summarises the legal document produced in public by the governing body.
When you participate in matters above yourself, and concerning common good, you're no longer just a citizen (at least in Civis' books), you're a citizen leader - a leader of democratic change. This instant encouragement and spirit building is built right into the dashboard of the citizen who has started taking part on Civis.
An Open System
If you find department detail missing in the system (or if new information emerges, as it usually does), you as a citizen leader can add this department information to the database. In this sense, the system is open to updates at the lowest level of information, making the system amenable and open and hence, dynamic and democratic.