The minds behind IserveU have launched a public test site as they get ready to officially unveil their e-democracy tool.
Once live, IserveU will allow Yellowknife residents to share their feedback on issues before city council. In turn, councillors who back the tool will vote in council according to the public consensus.
Last fall, one of three IserveU candidates was voted in during Yellowknife’s municipal election. And now – a full year into Rommel Silverio’s term – the online democracy tool has yet to launch.
“I think certainly we underestimated how much was going to be required on this,” said Mike Westwick, communications director with IserveU.
“We were potentially a little over-ambitious on our timing before. We’ve also found that building a site that’s responsive to democracy was quite difficult and there were a lot of considerations to take in.
“There’s been some trials and tribulations but we’re ready to move forward here.”
While the plan was to launch IserveU immediately following last October’s election, Westwick says his team faced a number of ‘technical issues’ getting the site ready.
But it seems an official launch may be closer than ever after a public test site went live earlier this week.
“Our public beta site is now live,” Westwick told Moose FM.
“It’s basically designed so that we get as much input and as much use as possible out of a slightly stripped-down site so that it’s at its best when we launch the full version.
“Ultimately it’s really to test functionality and to get people using all the features before we start verifying people and using the full strength of what we promised during the election.”
Westwick says users are able to create an account, vote and comment on motions and even propose their own on the beta site. With time, he says real council motions will make their way onto the site to promote further dialogue.
Westwick can’t say exactly when IserveU will launch, adding that his team wants to make sure everything is in place before that happens.
He credited Silverio for remaining patient throughout the process, calling him a strong advocate for citizen participation in government.