In battle for the ballot, software firms ‘app’ the ante

Apr 13 2014, 01:22 IST
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When the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls, it’s quite natural that software companies will try to tap the huge chunk of smartphone users in the country. Reuters When the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls, it’s quite natural that software companies will try to tap the huge chunk of smartphone users in the country. Reuters
SummaryToday, there’s an app for almost everything under the sun.

politics, in November last year to provide criminal, financial, educational and professional information on candidates. With the help of ‘USSD’ technology, Facebook was able to bring this information on phones without even an Internet connection. Voters just needed to dial *325*35# to access the election menu for no extra charge.

For ‘exposes’ on candidates contesting elections, there is the ‘Election Watch Reporter’ app. The app encourages users to report candidates’ corrupt practices by uploading photos and videos that uncover alleged malpractices. App developers, in turn, forward them to the Election Commission of India, the nodal election body in the country, for scrutiny.

A spokesperson from ADR, the brain behind ‘Election Watch Reporter’, says apps provide a cheaper mode of communication for both the developer and the end-user.

Not just social media giants and web companies, the way people access news is evolving as well. In fact, BBC recently announced that it is reaching out to its readers and the public via messaging apps—WhatsApp and WeChat. Trushar Barot, assistant editor of the user-generated content and social media hub at BBC News, recently said in a blog post that the broadcaster realises that these services—like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Viber, Nimbuzz, and BBM—“aren’t just ‘chat’ apps but effectively mobile-first social media channels”.

Recently, Google also launched ‘Know Your Candidates’, which allows citizens to get access to relevant information about candidates contesting from their constituencies and their incumbent MPs. It integrates publicly available information sourced from organisations such as the ADR, PRS Legislative Research and Liberty Institute India.

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