EDIT: Original Guest Post for GLA – now being completely re-edited before resubmission.

EDIT: Please note that this blog post has not been posted on the GLA. That article will be rewritten, and submitted over the weekend. Keep your eyes peeled!

There has always been a fundamental need to ask questions and get responses. Traditionally, In small communities this was possible by face-to-face communication, but as society has grown it has become impractical for one person to communicate with everyone, everyday. Newspapers and printed media entered the scene, offering news and insight to a broader crowd. Then came the digital age.

With modern-day communication tools it is possible to search for and locate the information that is relevant to you and your interests. Technology consistently refines this ability, and now the potential of the Internet is better known with the advent of the smart phone, this information is available to everyone, anywhere at all times.

However, there remains a significant flaw in one vital area: contributing your personal opinions. Responding with information is too removed from those whose job it is to engage with and interpret the audience. Technologies like Twitter allow the community to respond publicly and directly, but do not facilitate deeper, more detailed responses nor incorporate the contribution of rich media.

Civicboom is a new open-community engagement platform. It provides a suite of tools to facilitate and manage specific requests for rich media content. In effect it is a customisable channel between audience-facing organisations, and the members of the audience itself. This is achieved through the use of web-widgets, to encourage engagement from web-visitors, and a native mobile application, which allows individuals to respond to content requests with geolocated media [video, audio or text]. Equally, content can be suggested to specific organisations unprompted.

Rather than having opinions interpreted by potentially biased media organisations, increasingly without the resources to meaningfully canvas opinion effectively, the community is given a voice of its own. By providing the tools to request for and suggest content, we hope that local communities, governments and organisations can be encouraged to collaborate. We believe that the provision of such tools will invigorate democracy, inform decision making and stimulate the fourth estate.

We are an open platform, therefore the entire data-set of requests and responses are available through a public API [Application Programing Interface]. Independent developers and organisations are able to integrate our technology with their own systems, or use it to create new mobile applications, graphs, video display walls, news feeds and more. The data is open for the public to see, use and interact with.

It is ironic that the advent of the Internet should have caused a such dislocation of direct community engagement. Although it should not be the case, people are somehow insulated from meaningful and direct interactions by technology. We believe that open-data and open-source projects, such as the London Datastore, accessed in conjunction with civic open platforms, like Civicboom, are the answer to this

Our team of developers are renowned for their abilities to generate innovative ways of making public data-sets more meaningful. They competed and won in the ‘best developers’ category at the 2011 Guardian [h]activate event, and regularly contribute to Rewired State events. Only this weekend the team attended the Rewired State Stories of Democracy hack event. They successfully managed to build Parlimentary – a tool to process Hansard data and browse what MPs are talking about in an accessible way. Civicboom is committed to building better ways to communicate meaning, and we strive to bring this level of innovation to the public.

The public has a voice, and it must be heard. Rather than isolating people, technology should allow them to feel closer to their community. We are building the Civicboom platform to allow communities to re-engage.

The future is now. Let’s get involved.

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