The Brazilian activist and playwright Augusto Boal once said: “I believe in democracy, but in real democracy, not a phony democracy in which just powerful people can speak. For me, in a democracy everyone speaks.” Since Boal once served on the city council in Rio de Janeiro, he probably had local government in mind when he expressed his preference for a government system where everyone can speak.

The recent news that infotech startup ePluribus has raised almost a million dollars for their project to turn Facebook into a platform for discourse between local, state, and federal elected officials and their constituents is a big deal. It’s another hopeful sign that smart, ethically-minded people in the tech industry are truly concerned about the potential of their work to either help or hinder democracy, and their commitment to the former.

iConstituent shares this vision.

Let’s consider the historical context we’re living in right now. We’ve all heard plenty about the potential of social media to disrupt, distort, or sabotage democracies. Stories of fake accounts designed to pit groups against each other, bots programmed to leave divisive and conversation-killing comments on political stories, and data hacking have filled the news cycles over the past two years.

The potential for civic engagement through social media is not discussed enough. Internet, email, and social media technology can decrease the distance between elected and appointed officials and their constituents. It’s that “distance”– a metaphorical as well as physical distance — that alienates people from the political process. Clear and accessible communication can help overcome that alienation and make folks feel like they’re participating in the process — because they are.

iConstituent is leading the charge to turn CRM technology into the best toolkit for government-citizen engagement. Our team is finding ways to exercise better control of outbound messaging, tele-town hall meetings, and constantly updated constituent contact information.

Recently, we brought our flagship product into a cloud-based system, allowing state and local governments to increase the speed and efficiency of their deployment. iConstitutent has also integrated analytics tools in order that governments can better personalize their platforms. All of these developments have happened with input from government staff who are working to increase the effectiveness of their day-to-day communication with constituents.

It’s all part of an ongoing effort by the most conscientious people in tech to build a more transparent and accessible democratic society, where everyone can speak.

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