Yellowknifers will have to wait a little longer to boss around a councillor online.
IserveU, the online direct democracy system which saw a candidate successfully elected to Yellowknife city council last month, will remain in beta testing until January.
Rommel Silverio, the councillor elected on a pledge to use IserveU, will still be able to interact with users and read their responses on issues of the day – but the system will not become binding until its full launch, expected in around two months’ time.
“We don’t want Rommel to be bound to a site that hasn’t been fully tested and may not be working for a lot of Yellowknifers,” IserveU’s Paige Saunders told Moose FM.
“At this stage people can sign up, participate, let us know if it’s working, and if it’s not then we’ll get on to fixing it right away.”
Once operational, IserveU will let Yellowknife residents have their say and cast a vote on all issues crossing Silverio’s desk.
If a sufficient number of residents vote a certain way on an issue, Silverio will be bound to act upon that when city council next meets. If few residents are interested in a topic, Silverio has the freedom to decide how he’ll vote for himself.
“I’m very excited to see it happening,” said Dane Mason, a member of the IserveU team who ran – unsuccessfully – as a candidate to boost the group’s hopes in October’s municipal election.
“IserveU has the first direct electronic democracy candidate in the English-speaking world and, right now, the only one in the world as far as I’m aware,” added Mason.
“For the first two months or so it’ll work as a feedback mechanism. Rommel will be on there – he’ll be responding and reading everything, it still gives him information, but it’s not binding for the time being.
“We want to make sure that we have a statistically significant sample size and a system that’s working the way it should be. Only after that will it become binding.”
More information: IserveU’s website
The ultimate question will be how big that sample size has to be. How many residents is enough (a) to take the system out of beta and launch it, and (b) to make a vote’s outcome binding for Silverio?
“We don’t want the site to be running with 100 people on it. We want it to be more than that,” acknowledged Saunders.
“We can’t say an exact number but we have got about 1,800 people interested in signing up. Providing we see a decent number of those people converted across, I think we’re good to go.”