Since getting the inital version of the How They Voted app published last week I've asked a couple of people to have a look at it and give me some feedback. The response has been pretty good. So I'm ready to go forward with developing the app further and building a community around it.
I think the community aspect is very important for practical reasons - shared workload, pooling of ideas and resources, and driving the uptake of the app.
More importantly though I feel that a community is essential for this project's success as it is an effective way to ensure the app remains a non-partisan and factual tool to increase political engagement in our country.
It feels premature to talk about the app like this as the the usefulness of it and whether people will engage with it is yet to be determined.
I believe it is useful as it makes public data more accessible. I believe that if this information is readily available people can make informed decisions on issues without relying on opinions through platforms like Twitter or the media.
Currently the app uses data from the Oireachtas API. This is a great resource and will be core to developing the services that collect and analyse the data drom debates and votes in the Dáil.
Some of the ideas I have at the moment are:
Tagging and categorising of bills, motions and debates.
Summarising, in plain english, the content and context of the above.
Connecting Dáil activity to related media reports.
Services need to be built to pull data regularly from the Oireachtas API and to transform that data for use in the app.
Pipeline (currently handled by Github Actions) needs to be reviewed.
Addition of features and app performance will be ongoing.
Tooling to facilitate content creators.
Tonnes of things I haven't thought of yet…
One of the key things needed at this stage is advice and direction on how to develop this idea into a useful tool backed by a strong communtiy that gives impartial explanations of what is happening at the most important level of our society.