Digital advocacy looks different these days.
Since November, several innovative new tools have been launched or expanded with goals to make it easier to contact, connect, and interact with your elected officials. These efforts strive to meet people where they spend most of their time: on their phones, tablets, computers, and even chatting with their Amazon Echo.
Below, a short rundown of some interesting new ways to make your voice heard.
Phone2Action’s Alexa Skill was recently added to the Amazon Echo library, and enables you to call your representatives using only your voice, even if you don’t know who your representative is. Once you’ve enabled the skill, you can ask Alexa to “Ask Phone2Action to call my legislator.” Alexa will prompt you to share your zip code and phone number, after which you will receive a call connecting you to the offices of your Federal legislators. Ximena Hartsock, Founder and President of Phone2Action notes that “today many people engage with their devices using voice.” Phone2Action believes voice-controlled devices will become increasingly important, and hopes this new feature will help amplify citizens’ voices to effect change.
Facebook’s Town Hall feature, launched about a month ago, provides a native solution to contacting your representatives through the social network. Town Hall is accessible in the “Explore” section of your News Feed on a desktop computer or in the menu of your Facebook app. Typing your address shows your Federal, State, and in many cases local representatives. From there you can easily place a phone call to their office, view their profiles, or send them an email or Facebook message. Town Hall falls in line with Facebook’s recent efforts to build tools to help people become more civically informed and engaged.
Countable is a platform which helps users track their representatives and share their positions (via email or, uniquely, short video messages) on specific bills. The Video Advocacy feature is aimed at reaching a new generation of Americans who expect personalization and ease of access. Videos are limited to 30 seconds, and suggest that the recorder leave clear, concise, and respectable messages. The user also receives an alert letting them know once their video has been watched. Countable is not new, but has reported seeing a significant increase in traffic since Inauguration Day. They have also launched an embeddable widget that allows users to directly contact lawmakers.
Countable Advocacy Widget powered by Cicero.
Advocate is a new tool tackling engagement from both sides by trying to reach both citizens and those running for office. Each politician is given her own “digital headquarters” where they can see who supports them, make announcements, and view insights on what their constituents care about. For citizens, it strives to enable a deeper understanding of a candidate’s issues and a lower barrier to entry in the political process. Advocate is currently live in New York and New Jersey with plans to expand their coverage soon.
A Common Thread
Azavea’s Cicero product is proud to partner with and provide data to all of these organizations. If you have questions about leveraging our elected official or district information to power your own tool, app, or movement, reach out! We’d love to help. You can also explore our data with our free address based lookup tool.