With the US 2012 election campaign finally, thankfully, winding down, I wanted to share some interesting stories about the technology being used by the campaigns and super PACs to more effectively direct their field staff and target voters. From the various news stories I’ve heard over the past few weeks on NPR, and read in articles, it seems that both the presidential campaigns and the big budget super PACs have been making heavy use of social media, mobile device applications, cloud platforms, and big data.
This blog isn’t meant to take a position in the campaign. I can’t even argue that one campaign has made more effective use of new technology than another. Whereas in 2008, the Obama campaign clearly made more effective use of social media than his opponent, it seems that both campaigns in 2012 have aggressively embraced emerging technologies.
Here are five descriptions of applications that I was able to find. I will add to this list as I run across more. Please feel free to add any links to interesting stories that you know about as well in the comments. Also, the application of this technology is strictly an American perspective. I suspect many of my European colleagues will have an entirely different view of the acceptability, and even legality, of some of these applications. Please share your perspectives on this issue as well.
Use of cloud computing to link sprawling, temporary field offices with a single system.
Features of the Campaign Cloud by electionmall [SOURCE]
Cloud storage for campaign intelligence tracking
A slide taken from an online slideshow by a political targeting firm. [SOURCE]
Social media to influence voting
Certainly both campaigns and super PACs are making massive use of social media to get their message out, and to solicit donations. But what about using social media to both motivate people to actually cast their vote, and maybe even to influence how they vote. This article describes a research study that shows exactly how a social media site like Facebook can be used exactly to that effect. I don’t know whether this was actually deployed by any campaign, but don’t be surprised to see it in the next election cycle.
Startup company Votizen has taken these concepts to create as service that matches online social media profiles with registered voters. You can sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account and see your friends party registration, where they are registered to vote, and how often they actually cast their ballot. You can then enter your favorite candidate, whether for President of the United States, or the local school board, and find out which of your friends you need to motivate to vote for your candidate and cast their ballot.
View candidate profile and friends you can influence to vote for a candidate through social media in Votizen. [SOURCE]
Based on the information they’ve gleaned from social media networks and registered voter lists, Votizen is able to project a real time voter sentiment page of tweets.
Tweets and real time statistics of registered voters sentiment in the US by Votizen. [SOURCE]
Mobile devices tied to real time big data and cloud applications for canvasser efficiency and voter data collection
Lastly, this article and broadcast from Aarti Shahani from NPR’s All Things Considered describes the most impressive application I’ve heard about in this election cycle – The Door Knocking App, Electioneer from startup company Organizer. This application provides real time status updates to campaign coordinators of the voters being targeted by canvassers. You can see the progress of their canvassers and also get real time information of the voter’s sentiment.
Coordinators view of canvassing status. Check marks are targeted voters that were visited. [SOURCE]
There’s a corresponding mobile device application that canvassers use to know which voters they are assigned to talk with, and to be able to update sentiment in real time via a multiple choice poll.
View of poll input screen for individual voters in canvassing mobile application. [SOURCE]
One quote from the NPR article suggests that this kind of real time sentiment gathering could even replace traditional polling since you’ll have actual data about how each voter is feeling rather than having to make statistical guesses.
I was able to find this demo of the application on YouTube from the Disrupt conference:
Video demonstration of Electioneer cloud application and mobile device from Disrupt Conference. [SOURCE]
Innovating ideas for your company
None of the applications described above are for sale from SAP. If, however, one of these stories sparks a creative idea in your head, I encourage you to check out the SAP NetWeaver Cloud Developer Center. Here you can get a free developer license, and see what combining cloud computing with social, mobile, and big data functionality can do to create a competitive advantage for your company.
What are your thoughts?
This post originally appeared on the SAP Community Network.
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