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Newcastle Council trials e-voting app for councillors


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Newcastle City Council has trialled the use of a voting app for its members at a full council meeting and is now looking at further developing the method.

Jenny Nelson, the programme manager for Digital Newcastle, told UKAuthority the off-the-shelf Poll Everywhere app was used in a meeting last week, with most of the 75 members doing so through their smartphones while a couple used tablet computers.

“Some members were concerned beforehand but we’ve had positive feedback after the meeting, indicating it was a good experience all round, and we’re now looking at the possibility of a custom build,” she said.

“It doesn’t seem to be something that an off-the-shelf build ticks all the boxes for.”

The move was prompted by its 20 year-old legacy technology for voting at the meetings approaching the end of its life. The council held a supplier day at which it became clear that it would have to invest around £150,000 in a like-for-like replacement and decided it should look for a less expensive but still effective option.

This led to some discovery work and the trial using the app.

Now and future

“We need something that meets what we need to do and gives us some future proofing,” Nelson said. “We don’t know how democracy will work in five to 10 years so it needs some flexibility.”

Nelson added that Newcastle believes there is potential to work with other councils on the project, although it is not aware of others doing anything similar so far.

“We believe that other councils will be interested, especially if you can demonstrate that the members will be comfortable using it,” she said.

Image by Andri Koolme, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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