Voter participation in New Zealand is on a steady decline, and recent public referendums have been ignored by those in power. The population is slowly becoming disillusioned and numb to the workings of government.
Our brief was to re-engage New Zealanders in the democratic process. On a global level, technology is fuelling change. The use of Twitter during the Arab Spring uprising is just one recent example of the power to connect and organise people. The Citizen App aims to harness this growing power, by creating a tool that allows not just New Zealand, but the world to vote, creating Democracy in real time. Knowing your opinion is supported by the vast majority can strengthen resolve and inspire action, creating a force for change and a global platform for media reference.
Each phone that activates the app is given a Citizen number, no identifying personal information is collected. Every day a question is asked of the Citizenry. Once a Citizen has voted, they can view the results, then pose a question of their own. The topic that trends most often becomes the question for the following day. Results are viewed on an interactive map, revealing differences of opinion across countries, regions, and suburbs. The open source results can be shared by anyone: private citizens and media outlets all over the world. Citizen (version 1.0) was successfully launched nationwide in New Zealand – a test market for future launches, with Australia and USA scheduled for the end of 2014.