Smartvote.ie an app that started in UCD, developed to help young people engage with politics, has been nominated for a Dot.ie Net Visionary award. The founders of the app Keith Moore and Gordon Rose developed it in UCD’s Innovation Academy, and launched the app nationally for the 2016 general election.
The Smartvote app became a huge success among young people who had previously found it hard to connect to politics or elections. It works by quizzing users on their opinions of different policy issues and then matches them with politicians who answered similarly to them. The app has been nominated for the Dot.ie award for ‘best use of technology to make the world a better place’. Speaking to the Tribune about the nomination founder Keith Moore said they were “delighted with the success”.
Smartvote was used by over a quarter of a million people during the six weeks of the election campaign. Their aim was to particularly target young people and so they partnered with the Union of Students in Ireland to pilot the hashtag #MakeaSmartvote, which trended consistently over the election. The USI toured colleges in Ireland in the lead-up to the election, promoting the app and encouraging students to turnout and vote.
Moore claimed they were really encouraged by the success of the project to reach out and peak young people’s interest in politics. “We definitely felt it had an impact on the election and we could see how students in particular were using it to engage in the election like never before. People who were not usually interested in politics were suddenly having discussions with their friends and we believe Smartvote played a part in that.”
Smartvote.ie had its first trial run in UCD, where it was tested out during the Students’ Union sabbatical elections in 2015. From there they continued to develop the app and tested in again for constituents of the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election in the same year. The launch of the finished project for the 2016 February general election was met with a huge amount of interest and reaction. “It feels great to be nominated for a Dot.ie award because it recognises all the hard work we did to pull it all together” Keith said.
Data collected by a survey Smartvote conducted after the general election showed that 90% of respondents would recommend the app to a friend. A further 50% of people said it affected who they voted for. Keith confirmed Smartvote would now be shelved until the next general election and its creators would be moving on to a new project.
The next upcoming idea for the Smartvote creators is an app “Whats On Campus”, provding students with the latest updates about what’s happening and going on in their college. Keith Moore said they will hope to pilot the app this year, “watch this space” he exclaimed.
Jack Power | Editor