New online tool improves democracy, Hamilton inventor says
Politicians need to ask the right questions to make the right decisions, and a Hamilton inventor thinks he has the answer.
Ken Seville has launched Democravise, a web widget that goes deeper than a poll. People can give their opinions, but in doing so, rank the questions they asked themselves to arrive at the opinion and enter new ones the politician should consider.
It's a simple tool, but Seville thinks it will help improve the democratic process.
"The basic premise is that you make better decisions when you ask better questions," said Seville, who is working on the tool at the McMaster Innovation Park. "This helps decision makers crowd source."
Couns. Jason Farr and Brian McHattie and six neighbourhood associations are studying using Seville's tool to gauge opinion on whether to license rental units. The McMaster University Students Union is using it on the same issue.
McHattie said he is still looking into it, but he likes the philosophy.
"We need, as elected officials, to get more input on the decisions we're making and struggling with," he said.
The current methods of public meetings and email lists "don't necessarily capture that many people," he said. The concept of Democravise "is an attractive one."
A McMaster political science grad, Seville has a keen interest in current events. He sees numerous issues where this could be used, such as the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefits (Are people thinking of health? Financial impacts? Whether it will increase their taxes?) or free transit for people who are blind or disabled.
The widget will be free at democravise.com, and is as simple as pasting a piece of code onto a website. Seville also hopes to make it open source, which means the source code and design will be freely available for anyone to use.