DemocracyLab is a nonprofit organization aspiring to revolutionize politics by creating and curating online tools that engage communities to solve problems.
The diagram below illustrates our understanding of the stages of community problem solving:
DemocracyLab was founded around specific ideas relating to the framing and deliberation of issues, and these remain the focus of our software development efforts. In creating our online engagement platform, there are a number of key relationships we defined:
Individuals can be members of many Communities.
Communities are faced with many Issues.
Issues can be understood by engaging individuals to answer the following questions:
- Why? Values are the principles and core beliefs that guide our thinking.
- What? Objectives describe the outcomes we would like to accomplish.
- How? Policies are the plans of action we would like to see implemented.
By illuminating the connections between the values, objectives, and policies that describe a community's view of an issue, we create a dynamic map of political thought, helping us to discover consensus where it exists, and when it doesn't, to focus deliberation productively at the point of disagreement. We believe this will lead to better decision-making and outcomes for adopting communities.
The diagram below illustrates the data structure of our platform:
To see these ideas in action and test-drive our platform, please visit our participate page.
Ours is unlikely to emerge as the one universal online civic engagement platform that will be effective for all communities at all stages of the problem solving process. Recognizing this, DemocracyLab has begun curating other online engagement tools in our Civic Tech Exchange. Our intent is to cultivate a sustainable ecosystem for civic tech by connecting citizens, leaders, developers and donors, and that collectively we can achieve what none of us could hope to accomplish alone.
Check out our work-in-progress at our Civic Tech Exchange.
We believe that new tools must be invented to solve the challenges of the 21st Century. We invite you to join us in being part of the solution.