Coming from an emerging economy as well, Malaysia, we have been through years of political instability and recurring threat of violence due to protests and military action on civilians since our independence in 1957. The numerous reports and news of violence during elections have discouraged civilians to vote due to fear of their personal safety.
Talking to several users from Nigeria and from our own research, we found that this is a prevalent phenomena not just in our home country, but in various emerging economies as well. Feeling strongly about this problem, we are determined to create a solution that will empower voters to feel safe during elections.
What it does
Our crowdsourcing platform allows local communities to create and consume trustworthy reports of threats during election. This is accomplished by empowering voters to see what's happening in their dedicated polling stations, report on incidents, and validate such reports reliably with the power of technology.
How we built it
We have created a prototype on Proto.io that showcases the user journey for the threat reporting use case during elections. We have also implemented a mobile frontend in React native that performs the report validation functionality.
Challenges we ran into
Understanding the pain points and electoral landscape of the Nigeria community, which is quite different from Malaysia and even more so from the UK. Having spoken to a few voters from Nigeria and by conducting online research on their political landscape, we had to step into the users' shoes when designing the solution for both the voters and external parties (i.e. local authorities, media and government bodies).
It was also particularly hard to gather reliable data regarding threat perception and the elections in Nigeria, so we had to think out of the box to run sentiment analysis on social media mentions of the election, as well as analyzing data from international bodies such as the United Nations and World Bank. This lack of reliable data, however, has encouraged us to build our value proposition about data quality and integrity.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Creating a complete prototype in the span of one day, that addresses both the users' needs from a UI/UX perspective (i.e. simple, quick and interactive way to report/validate incidents, gamification of platform to incentivize people to be freedom fighters, low resolution live feed to address internet connectivity concerns), as well as the political climate that is unique to Nigeria (i.e. concerns about 'exploitation' opportunities in the electoral process, and even in 'planned riots' to progress one's political agenda).
The main accomplishment, from our perspective, is the passion and excitement from voters in Nigeria who wants to see our idea come into fruition, and who believed that, quote, "this will make a significant change in our country and I actually see this happening in my village."
What we learned
The Nigeria political climate is vastly different from that of developed countries, and we had to consider various edge cases when designing our final solution. The key takeaway is to EMPOWER the people and voters to look out for one another to bring about collective change.
What's next for Oju
Create a functioning Android app with features outlined in our Proto.io prototype. We will then launch a Beta product to test this particular use case in the local market, to see if we can (and should) extend its application into electoral fraud prevention, pre and post election events (i.e. rallies, inauguration) and even crisis response.
We will explore partnership opportunities with local authorities and government bodies, as well as implement effective marketing strategies such as media and social influencer collaborations, mobile service provider bundling and API solutions that can integrate to other data visualization dashboards such as Ushahidi.