New Tools and Technologies

Create an Online Citizen Participation Portal

The creation of an online portal for citizen participation would be an institutionalized government portal that would allow citizens to research, discuss, and oversee formation of public policy as well as locate and log community service.

The closest thing to this so far would be a hybrid of the creations of the Sunlight Foundation, primarily It would provide a portal for citizens to review and comment on proposed legislation and track government accountability (such as donors to their representatives). However, institutionalization will help get members of government and their staff interacting with citizens.

For example, on the government side there should be functionality that allows a representative to filter out all comments to find those posted by their constituents. They could also allow twitter or RSS to rapidly take surveys amongst constituents. Filters could also be used to find expert opinions by filtering out constituents to see what lobbyists or academics are saying about a bill. Combine these filtering options with data visualization tools will make it easy for representatives to tap into the public consciousness and citizens to have a dialogue with their government on issues of the day.

Another filter would be to adjust the scale on which you are viewing. Be able to toggle between the district, state, and national discussions so you can find issues more relevant to your specific location. This could also be used to find local volunteer and public service opportunities. Furthermore, each opportunity could use a standard form to log hours of volunteers, so your citizen profile could show not only how active you are online but also how active you are in your community. This would be a great way to get credit for civic participation.

There are many more ways this could be more efficient. Please provide feedback in the comments section.


Submitted by Unsubscribed User

Stage: Active

Feedback Score

96 votes
Voting Disabled

Idea Details

Vote Activity (latest 20 votes)

  1. Upvoted
  2. Downvoted
  3. Upvoted
  4. Upvoted
  5. Upvoted
  6. Upvoted
  7. Upvoted
  8. Upvoted
  9. Upvoted
  10. Upvoted
  11. Upvoted
  12. Upvoted
  13. Upvoted
  14. Upvoted
  15. Upvoted
  16. Downvoted
  17. Upvoted
  18. Upvoted
  19. Upvoted
  20. Downvoted
(latest 20 votes)

Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    You might want to check out

    It has only been operating for a few months, so there are a few bugs in it's design. But on the whole, this is probably the approach to accomplishing what you are suggestion.

    Good two-way communication between the participant and their elected representatives isn't there yet. In addition, each bill listed should have a blog page assigned to it, with some good deliberative groupware working. But this website is simply miles ahead of anything I have seen covering this area, and is definitely worth the read and even joining up.

    ex animo


  2. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    The correct URL for The People Decide web site is

    ex animo


  3. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    David, I've seen a couple of sites trying to do this, I want it institutionalized to ensure that there isn't an overlap of effort and it is guaranteed that staff in the government are actively processing it. Having multiple sites, whether it be or, fragments the effort, hence the need for one portal.

  4. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    Absolutely agree with what you said on institutionalization. Overlapping efforts, when the goal is coordinated effort and communication, seems irrational.

    A standard HUB of government participation and action is what we need to truly utilize the dispersed nature of knowledge and opinion.

  5. Comment

    To the extent this is like an open wiki and not controlled by gatekeepers, it would be a very productive service. If citizens feel the conversation is controlled (institutionalized?) by hidden gatekeepers, they will ignore it. It should not be just an information reference site, but also an information gathering site, like wikipedia. Wikipedia is so successful because it's perceived as "owned" by its contributors and participants.

    The open market of participants has to be able to police itself from abuse, but there should be no sense of Big Brother making judgments on content. If this functions properly, representatives should be getting their marching orders from their portal.

    Are you listening, Ahnuld?

  6. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    I think there needs to be a balance between them and a process by which ideas get created, merged, rated, and processed. Users absolutely should be able to contribute, but there needs to be a way of keeping discussion on task and evidence based.

    The 3 step method of brainstorming, discussing, and drafting of this current initiative is a good process to model after, although I think rather than having "gatekeepers" it should have facilitators who can create surveys and organize points of contention so that everyone can understand the structure the issue.

    Hopefully this will not only let it act as an outlet for opinionated citizens, but also as a way that those in government can provide insight that helps educate people about the complexities, research, and rationales behind policies.

  7. Comment
    Stephen Buckley

    Tom --

    I got your comment/message under my idea:

    "" --> Customized to What Affects You

    From the discussion here, it sounds like you are talking not so much

    about a "portal", but the feature for group-dialogue that would be found

    there, and then on to what's are the best platforms out there.

    Of course, eventually, there will be some kind of website ("portal") like you describe.

    But, at this early point in the process, it is premature to discuss (here) which

    particular software might be suitable for such a site.

    I'd like to discuss this more, but this brainstorming phase/site will go inactive

    on June 3rd, so is there a relevant online discussion area that is

    better suited (than here) for continuing this?


    Stephen Buckley

    (my profile here)

  8. Comment

    (I posted this on Steve's page as well, but putting it here to keep everyone in the loop)


    Actually the homepage of this site says brainstorming is over May 28th and then discussion begins on June 3rd. I'm assuming that is to let them process and merge ideas to see which were popular (so our ideas could have been merged anyway). My comment on the combination of the Sunlight Foundation sites was not intended to be a comment on the kind of software, but rather the functionality. Combining all of their sites would lead to a lot of functionality, from news, monitoring bills, and overseeing lobbyists and campaign finance (MAPLight).

    I've not only commented on your post but various others as well, including the function to rate discussions and let them go to the top or to use a policy wiki. I'm not sure where a good discussion could take place (I'd like to include others who have commented on our posts) but I will e-mail you so we have a line of direct contact (I may even add your blog to my RSS feed!).

  9. Comment
    David Langer

    As a software developer, one of the most important points to me about this is that the software developed for anything to do with voting is open source (that is the source code can be read and reviewed by anyone. This is so that 'we the people' can review the code that is doing the work powering our democracy) and is owned by the government (and by extension, the people), not by some private sector company. Also, the release control process must be open and reviewable as well. It's all well and good to be able to see source code, but there is a lot that happens from source code to functioning computer system. It must be verifiable if it is to be able to provide us with any level of faith in 'the system'.

    It will be a matter of utmost importance to verify the identity of people logging in to system to record their votes. Tampering with this system would need to be made a federal crime with stiff penalties. There are lots of ways to provide secure web access. In my opinion the absolute best would be to create a secure, enclosed, electronic kiosk network available at post offices, libraries, government buildings and the like where anyone can go to record their votes in an extremely secure manner so that it is not subject to the vagaries of viruses, worms, keystroke-loggers and such that plague the common home computer. This also provides folks who do not have home computers access to the same electronic voting system as those more fortunate.

    It would be fine to make the site accessible from home computers to review materials, record voting intentions and such. However, for absolute security, the final voting should be only possible via the kiosk network.

  10. Comment
    Stephen Buckley

    Dear fellow "Idea" brainstormers and commentors:

    For news and moderated discussion (public, but unofficial) about the

    continuing development and implementation of the "Open Government

    Directive", you are invited to either:

    1. send

    2. visit

    NOTE: Because I am posting this to the Comment section of some

    (but not all) Ideas, you may see this message more than once.

    I apologize for that.


    Stephen Buckley

  11. Comment

    I think this is a great idea as most politicians do not put out surveys and only go by what we the people want by us calling and sending letters and emails. Why don't they work for us? They should be willing to ask us what we want, not the other way around!

  12. Comment

    The complexities of business and invention need not be compromised in supporting standard portal connections. The ability to connect to the rest of the world and access the strength of community the web has to offer is vital for all humanity to compete in future learning environments. The fundamental secure portal that this writing refers to is a high level secure portal connection, the device offers the user the immediate ability to connect and transmit or receive data on the move. It unifies what is technically possible and marketable into a single device. Vital statistics would be monitored and available to the user for analysis. Applications that enhance the user in interactions with the community at large offer advantages that right now while available, are weakened in usefulness by fragmented and independent design. The trends in communications design and embedded applications have made rapid acceptance in society. The convergence with green power generation from the user coupled with embedded applications that provide enhancements for connectivity would also assist in societies efforts to reign in cybercrime. A standard portal device will offer encryption levels that are hack proof and will be designed to ensure user privacy. A citizen standard connection portal, in the spirit of transparency the strength in the adoption lies in the societal acceptance. When all citizens have the power of connectivity to participate in the strength of community, opportunity for enhanced learning becomes more powerful as well.

    The costs of governance have the potential for drastic reduction. By merely giving every person in America immediate connectivity no matter where they are in the world reduces the infrastructure costs of providing the services of government and society as a whole. By giving this level of possibility to all Americans the strength of what it means to participate in building success will become immediately apparent. The design of this device through peer review across the population’s diverse spectrum of scientists’, business leaders, social network professionals and government agencies, along with the public at large will give 21st century clout to the protection offered within the constitution.

    Cyber security will be made highly affordable to implement as the standard would have the largest audience not only in its creation but as well in its deployment. Once deployed the increased connectivity to efficiently deliver the services primarily of government but of all aspects of societal interactions, will be the 21st century platform for all cumulative societal efforts engaged in national and global prosperity.

    Wireless connectivity offers the most efficient transition to full participatory access for all Americans.

  13. Comment
    David Langer

    Anything web based, and accessible from any home computer is effectively insecure. Given the level of malware that can infect home computers, for example keystroke loggers and site redirections could wreak havoc on the security of a system based on a web site.

    I would posit that similar things are true for cell phones, in that software can be downloaded to many of the phones by the company that owns the phones without customer knowledge.

    If you are referring to a different physical device, distinct from the home computer or personal handheld device common in these times that would be provided to all citizens... Assuming it could not be used for other stuff than what the government provides for it to do... I could discuss the security level of that sort of device further without feeling a need to discount it off hand as I would do regarding personal computers or the like. However, I would suggest that providing a government funded device to all citizens, to be replaced in case of damage, malfunction, loss... would have a high cost.

  14. Comment

    Certainly startup is thought to be expensive, however; the techniques for creating nanotechologies are getting more capable all the time. Cost effectiveness has been demonstrated many times before and is a matter of fact in using general design principles coupled with mass production. I just want to ensure that all citizens have affordable access to such powerful concepts of learning.

    A standard citizen portal connection that is highly affordable, wireless and miniturized and uses extremely low amounts of power is the way forward. To combine efforts of cyber security, affordability and wireless connectivity into a single device is a significant strategy that will be a cornerstone that when combined with other great ideas mentioned on this site and elsewhere will have no equal for years to come.

  15. Comment

    Virtual citizenship and activism...great idea!