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Last Updated : Mar 12, 2019 05:22 PM IST | Source:

With elections looming, civic apps look to ride on the poll bandwagon

According to media reports, there are more than 50 mobile applications and web-based platforms planning to tap into the election fever.

Swathi Moorthy @kpswathi
Representative image
Representative image

With elections looming, it is not uncommon to see political ads in front pages of newspapers. However, it is surprising to see civic tech startups sporting front page ads in the run up to elections.

These startups, which are leveraging technology to give voice to citizens, are gaining popularity in the recent times. What best time to tap this interest than elections?

The 17th Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, 2019. The counting of votes will be held on May 23, when the results will be announced.

There are more than 50 mobile applications and web-based platforms that are planning to tap into the election fever. In the last couple of years, the space witnessed launch of applications such as Neta and Next Elections.

Antaraa Vasudev, founder of Civis, which helps citizens give feedback about policies and legislations, said: "As election nears, there is big spike in understanding of civic tech." The company works with not-for-profit organisations to reach out to citizens. It currently has 1000 citizens and 200 active users on its platform. Civis will come out with its app in July.

According to Vasudev, this spike in interest is thanks to increasing mobile penetration that has resulted in better awareness about civic technology. As technology adoption increases, so does citizens' interest to engage with the administrators and an opportunity to voice their opinion.

While Civis focuses on helping citizens give feedback, NextElection allows users to collectively discuss issues and channel the feedback to authorities and publicly rate them real-time. NextElection app is available in Android.

Another app Neta, which ranks politicians on a real time basis based on voters' feedback, is adding a million users per day since the announcement of election dates. The platform witnessed increased traction since the Pulwama attack.

Neta was first launched in August 2018 and was rolled out initially in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh during State elections. It now covers all constituencies in India.

Pratham Mittal, founder, said the platform has over 20 million voters and 7,800 leaders engaging users on a daily basis. With such a big sample size, Mittal said even political parties are using the platform's data for selecting candidates for different constituencies.

For politicians, a platform like Neta offers insights into the mindset of voters. In addition since the sample size is huge, experts say that the data is a lot more accurate.

Mittal said that based on the company's experience during Karnataka and Rajasthan elections, their results are accurate.

The platform has partnered with five media houses that has also made equity investment in the company. Apart from media, the company has also raised funds from venture capitalists and high net-worth investors. The company has raised funding of Rs 80 crore in total.

While Mittal's venture has received funding from media houses and private investment, funding is a challenge. According to a previous report, Civis depends on grants for sustaining the business while NextElection is exploring ad revenues.
First Published on Mar 12, 2019 05:20 pm
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