USpeak: SMS Web-Based Constituent Engagement Tool

shutterstock_199825841In Uganda, NDI has experimented with a phone-focused platform called USpeak to connect voters with their members of Parliament.

USpeak is an SMS and web-based constituent engagement and tracking platform that provides a mechanism for citizens to communicate with their representatives using SMS, and for lawmakers to better recognize citizens’ needs and interests.

The USpeak tool allows constituents to share their views and request information on issues from MPs by text message, voicemail or by leaving a message with the NDI managed USpeak call center, which handles 23 of the most widely spoken languages in the country. USpeak then aggregates the reports and requests by issue; this allows MPs to track the information, including the number of contacts and types of issues, and compare them to the number of messages received by other lawmakers on these issues.

In each case, the use of technology is a means-to-an-end, rather than an end in itself: technology is only useful if it helps the party perform its functions and achieve its goals. A party should identify a variety of methods with which it can deliver its message to its target audience, including in person, by telephone (either voice or SMS), through radio, TV, newspapers, internet and social media, and by mail or email. For more information, please see the section on what types of technology can help.

For more information about USpeak, please see the Citizen Participation and Technology: An NDI Study [Page 43].