Online democracy tool IserveU finally launches in Yellowknife

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An online democracy tool that allows residents to influence city councillors’ votes has finally launched in Yellowknife.

IserveU officially opened version one of its website this week, allowing residents to register, vote on motions and policies and even suggest their own.

City councillor Rommel Silverio.

In turn, councillors who back the tool will vote in council according to the public consensus.

The e-democracy tool proved to be a rather contentious issue during the 2015 municipal election.

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In the end, Rommel Silverio was the only candidate elected on an IserveU platform. The other seven councillors did not pledge to use it.

But for Silverio’s entire term up to this point, he hasn’t been able to use the online democracy tool since it hasn’t been live.

The plan was to launch IserveU immediately after the 2015 election, but developers ran into a number of ‘technical issues’ getting the site ready.

In November of last year, IserveU communications director Mike Westwick admitted they also might’ve been a little too ambitious with some of their original timelines.

One of his colleagues, political director Dane Mason, says developers basically had to start the program from scratch after hearing feedback from Yellowknife residents.

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IserveU political director Dane Mason.

He says this week’s launch was a long time in the making.

“At long last,” Mason told Moose FM. “For Yellowknifers it means that they can finally get on IserveU and actually have a say on some motions.

“It’s up, functioning and ready to go.”

Mason says IserveU improves on social media feedback by providing a more positive environment in which residents can share views on policy.

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Right now, the results of votes cast online are not binding for Silverio but they will be one day, Mason says.

The next step is to install a verification system so that IserveU can be sure that those using the site actually live in Yellowknife. Mason expects that process to take another six months or more.

Both Mason and  Westwick credited Silverio for remaining patient throughout the entire process.

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