Submission Info

Download the Android App here.

Access the Web Application here.

Inspiration

Many people have an interest in making a positive impact in their communities, but find it hard to options to turn that interest into action. Relevant environmental legislation may be clouded in esoteric mystery, and local events might fly under the radar. Valuable opportunities for civic engagement are then lost. At Civic Arena, we help people to engage directly in issues they care about. We aim to fill the knowledge gap about concrete actions people can take to support issues at different levels of government.

What it does

The Civic Arena app has three main functions:

  1. Identify
  2. Educate
  3. Prompt action

Identify
Once the user logs in using Facebook, key information is pulled from their Facebook profile. If the address information is missing, the user is asked to enter their ZIP/Postal Code.
The user can then select multiple topics of interest e.g. Solar, Water or Energy Efficiency and indicate levels of Engagement (Supporter, Advocate and Expert).

Educate
Based on the Engagement level, the user will see an information feed relevant to their chosen topics. The higher the Engagement level, the greater the detail and complexity of the information. The information shown will include news articles and ongoing legislation related to the issue.

Take Action
Once the user has sufficient information on a topic, he may decide to take action in support of his policy stance. Civic Arena is meant to help citizens exercise their political rights and perform their civic duty of participation in the democratic setup.

  • Push Notifications
    Certain events will trigger push notifications via text messages or emails to users based on their settings. E.g. If a new bill has come up for voting on the floor, a user with an engagement level of Advocate will get a message to inform them and mobilize action.

  • Social Media
    User can tweet pre-defined messages to their local representatives or connect with other activists using Facebook groups.

  • Gamification
    The app will monitor how engaged a user is based on actions he performs. E.g. a user who read an article, tweeted about it and mailed their Representative to support a piece of legislature would get several points in a tier system. A progress bar will show the user how much progress they have made.

How we built it

We built CivicArena with HTML, CSS, Javascript and C#. Because we were limited in time, instead of writing the app in native mobile app we chose to write it in a WebApp style so that it can be viewed on both a browser and smart phone. We used appgeyser to convert it to a mobile app.

Challenges we ran into

Some challenges that we ran into were:

  1. Finding a way for twitter autofill.
  2. Understanding how to interface with the different email

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to close the gap between constituents and policymakers around the topic of climate change and environmental stewardship. We see an electorate that is growing more active on social media and digital communications with legislators who are challenged with finding effective ways to connect and accurately represent their constituents. Our app will be the tool to open up industries and promote rapid change by guiding users to easily connect and be informed on legislative policies and community needs.

What we learned

We learned that it is a challenge to connect with the full spectrum of users and having an unbiased platform where people can effectively connect through social media is key. We also learned that there are many resources at our disposal and we were excited to be the first platform of its kind to connect them all. Speaking of collection, we were also excited to have an app where supporters of different aspect of environmental and energy policy can all connect and see how interconnected the issues are. By doing this, we hope to connect the organizations, news sources and members from the full spectrum community in one location.

What's next for CivicArena

We plan to pressure test the app with actual users and iterate the product based on feedback. Additional key next steps include adding new functions such as push notifications (e.g. letting users know about local advocacy events) and gamification (i.e. actions that are tiered and point-based). We will also increase sophistication and social media integration using data from our APIs to improve the user interface and prompt civic action. We will also build the app for iOS.

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