Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-08
End: 2022-10
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Verticals + Search
Data and AI


Make political news and online debate accessible

PoliFLW is an interactive online platform that allows journalists and citizens to stay informed, and keep up to date with the growing group of political parties and politicians relevant to them - even those whose opinions they don't directly share. The prize-winning polical crowdsourcing platform makes finding hyperlocal, national and European political news relevant to the individual far easier. By aggregating the news political parties share on their websites and social media accounts, PoliFLW is a time-saving and citizen-engagement enhancing tool that brings the internet one step closer to being human-centric. In this project the platform will add the news shared by parties in the European Parliament and national parties in all EU member states. , showcasing what it can mean for access to information in Europe. There will be a built-in translation function, making it easier to read news across country borders. PoliFLW is a collaborative environment that helps to create more societal dialogue and better informed citizens, breaking down political barriers.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Politics and government can be very confusing and exhausting. People with strong opinions and clashing world views debating at length about all kinds of niche topics and very broad and complex issues. And on the other side, endless formal announcements published in a bureaucratic way exhaust ones attention. It can be hard to stay connected, and in fact once you lose track of a thread you are kind of lost - because from that moment on you lack essential background knowledge while the discussion rushes on. This ´information debt' piles up, and at some point much of what is said may not mean a whole lot to the majority of people. Continuously repeating some of it may be good to allow people to reconnect, but it punishes the people that did pay attention and makes them disconnect. And lets not forget there are dishonest people too, that have no problem to exploit the fundamental inability for everyone to know it all, and try to take manipulate and use misinformation to enriching themselves.

To make things worse: there are different, partially overlapping levels of politics and government, from global politics to the village or city council you live in. There are many individuals and different political parties, meetings and official publication channels to track. People come and go all the time, new parties are founded, new coalitions cemented, new people appointed doing things differently. And the internet has enabled politics to go on 24/7, even further straining ones time budget and fragmenting the discussion. Politicians probe ideas and make subsequent decisions for you based on social media feedback, while you are doing the dishes or standing next to the football field cheering the neighbour kid at her important match. How are you supposed to do your daily work, pay attention to the ones dear to you and keep up with all what is happening? Especially if the relevant messages are spread across the whole political spectrum. Tracking everything that could somehow be relevant is more than a full time job, or even more than enough to fill several lives in parallel. And yet: hidden in there are extremely important events and decisions that may directly influence your life. What if the topic of discussion is your street, budget cuts on the home for the elderly where your grandmother lives, or whether the toxicity levels in the playground where your kids play are reasonable and nothing has to be done? And if you notice something, how do you make sure others do?

The internet may have contributed to some of the information overload to citizens, but it also can help. This is where PoliFLW comes in. It can use the power of the crowd to "crowdsource" and curate relevant information in a very user friendly and non-obtrusive way. PoliFLW is an effort to index and organize political news that affects where you live and work. The platform scrapes social media accounts and collects news that (local) political parties share on their websites and and makes it searchable through tagging and indexing. Users can for example filter on date, location, source or political entity, or scrape the articles and sources for a specific topic. Why hasn't a decision been made about that dangerous crosswalk down the road? How has the municipality handled social care over the last few years? What do local parties think about addressing sustainability in your neighborhood (rather than just the political figure you voted for)?

PoliFLW is not just important to inform private individuals like yourself, but it is also a tool that greatly assists professionals like journalists. As watchdogs of democracy, journalists work hard to keep politicians honest and inform their audience about the latest political news. This is not an easy feat. They know how political parties are organized, where they get their money from, what their stances are on important topics and with the help of PoliFLW can show how the currently elected government came to decisions. Because of budget cuts local channels rarely have the time and money anymore to check up on local politics. At the same time, national and European politics becomes more connected and complex, making the political process obtuse rather than transparent. Making political data open or dumping information online does not solve this problem. Instead, such public data must be searchable, discoverable and accessible for journalists and curious citizens alike. The goal of PoliFLW is to include and organize news at all levels of politics, from hyperlocal to national parties to the European Parliament, in all member states.

PoliFLW gives everyone a clearer view of local political decisions and discussions that news media now tend to overlook. It can aid journalists to counter this negative trend and keep local politicians honest. And it can help normal citizens to maintain an overview across the whole political spectrum, and break out of political silo's and social media bubbles.

Run by Open State Foundation

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.