Steps to a Successful DOS Rollout
The steps to a successful rollout include:
- Initial Software Evaluation – functionality
- Technical requirements, hosting, security
- Software Testing and Usability Evaluation
- Market Test (Research, Focus Groups)
- Marketplace (Riding) Education and Promotion
- Full System Rollout
The objective of this initiative is to roll out a Democracy Operating System in one riding initially as a market test. It is anticipated that once one riding finds the value in a DOS then other ridings will follow. The steps outlined above give the basic implementation steps.
It’s a Big Job
Implementing a Democracy Operating System rollout to a riding in Canada is a large endeavor. The current DOS offerings on the market are all “open-source” software which can be freely downloaded and shared and source code is available. How suitable any of the software packages are for deployment in Canada has not been established and a thorough evaluation on a number of levels from suitability of use to final full system rollout is required.
A core team to evaluate and initially test the software must consider that voters will have differing requirements based on their understanding of what the software does and how much time and effort they wish to spend interacting with the system. The software should include criteria for high-level interaction (low time/interest) to fully-engaged individuals who will want to use the software for high levels of interaction.
As funds become available, a non-profit organization will be established to provide a framework for full-time employee(s) or contracted services for technical, publicity, marketing, legal and accounting. This would essentially be a “startup” organization and would require a legal framework and funding.
Initial Software Evaluation
There are a number of Democracy Operating Systems that have been developed. As in any search for the “right” system for a Canadian riding, there are a number of critical factors both from a technical and usability standpoint including:
- Software usability – the software must be easy to use and understand by participants
- Security – the systems considered must feature robust security features
- Software development – software must have robust and on-going support from the system developers
- Offered in French and English (or a plan for English and French versions)
- Ability to satisfy criteria for member participation (identifying members in a riding for access to the system)
- Ability to satisfy low-level involvement to high level involvement by user
- Ability to satisfy criteria for credible sources of government data for evaluation and analysis by riding members
The DOS software chosen must be able to be satisfy technical requirements for hosting and security. Some of the software packages are now integrating blockchain technology for security. This will require technical expertise from team member(s) who will be maintaining the software. It is envisioned that the open source community can be leveraged for some of these critical functions. A dedicated team member must be available to co-ordinate these activities and implement technical requirements.
Software Testing and Usability Evaluation
Marketplace testing must be conducted before the full system rollout in a riding. For a successful rollout the software must be fully functional and tested by users prior to full deployment. Focus groups, test groups and a system for feedback must be implemented to fully assess the software. The ability to modify the software based on user feedback must be available. Since all the software packages are open-source, the open-source community provides a robust resource for implementation of any required changes.
Prior to full deployment of the software, a “test” riding must be chosen as an initial market test for the finalized version of the software. Ridings with high levels of political engagement should be considered as this would provide a higher likelihood of a successful full system rollout. The market test will determine what level of promotion and education are required for a full-scale deployment of the software and expected levels of engagement. User feedback can also be built into the market test for minor changes to the software. The market test would include user research and focus groups.
Marketplace (Riding) Education and Promotion
Any software deployment must have a “buy-in” from the intended users. If the user group (a riding in Canada) does not see the need for the software or does not consider it useful low participation will result. It is anticipated that the DOS software will be seen as useful and indeed, essential for users. However potential users must know of the existence of the software, understand its implications, have access to the software and be able to quickly and intuitively use the software. Budgets for education and promotion must be adequate to provide successful penetration of the market.
Full System Rollout
A successful rollout of the software in one riding is absolutely essential for the deployment of the software in other ridings and for the overall long-term success of this venture. If the full system rollout is not successful the long-term prospects of a DOS in Canada will be compromised. If there are adequate resources available and the above criteria is satisfied, it is anticipated that a fully-functional DOS will be taken up by Canadians and provide a new model for democracy for Canada. This new model will revitalize our antiquated representative democracy, engage new generations and ultimately take control of our political system. It will remove the influence of big money, the political class and political parties and put democracy in the hands of the people of Canada.