Monday, July 09, 2012

Mapping government policies online - Govmonitor, a great new aussie site

For all the attention on government policies, the various announcements and documentation on political party sites, it can be very difficult to compare and contrast where different parties sit on different issues and, for governments, difficult to keep track of whether they are sticking to their election policies or amending them for pragmatic, political or other reasons.

While the capacity to provide quick and easy insights and access to party policy statements online is technically possible, it isn't often done. Even traditional media outlets tend to turn it into a shopping list or a tool for punishing parties rather than a tool for informing the public and improving policy discussions within and outside parties.

That's why prior to last election I participated in a Google doc project to map the policies of various parties, which prompted some very interesting conversations, but has not been maintained.

I suspect it is also part of the motive behind the latest attempt to 'crowdmap' the policies of political parties at

The Govmonitor site (
This, however is a far more visual, accessible and interactive approach than the prior collaborative document idea, providing for easier searching and visual identification of what policies and positions parties support, don't support and haven't made a decision on yet.

The site offers a range of ways to view content, by party, by issue and by topic, with a full text search as well.

It also provides an easy way for people to contribute, adding party policies or positions on issues complete with evidential links and references supporting the party positions.

This is an excellent example of Gov 2.0 in action, providing information and education through evidence-backed crowd-sourcing to support people to identify the parties their views most correlate with.

It is also a great first step as a site, with the potential to expand to support robust issue-based discussions and allowing individuals to state their positions and connect them to like minded people. There's also quite broad international potential as the same approach can be applied to any level of politics anywhere in the world where citizens have a role in selecting their leaders.

Chris Doble has done a great job with this site and I hope it gains increasing attention and traction as we move closer to the next federal election.

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