CrowdHall Joins the #OpenGov Movement with Online Town Halls

January 3, 2013

4:00 pm

With the election over, CrowdHall is joining the open government movement to make sure our voices get heard between voting time.

The movement, including organizations like the OpenGov Foundation and Votifi, is creating technologies to enable citizens to participate in government. As CrowdHall explains, they want politicians to be more accessible and responsive to ideas and questions from the public.

To that end, CrowdHall’s online town halls let public figures answer questions from their constituencies. When you publish a post, other users vote on it, and the most popular ones bubble up to the top.

This forum, which politicians can then embed on their own websites, is already being used by 2012 US Senate candidate Scott Howell and USAID administrator Raj Shah. Howell, for example, answered questions on how he would improve education, the role of government in health care, and his approach to Libya and Iran.

CEO Austin Hackett started CrowdHall because he was frustrated with other options for political participation.

“I was watching the early Republican debates and they were trying to use Twitter questions to show how ‘open’ they were to getting questions from ‘real people.’ It was clear that this was a highly managed process, and just about as far from ‘transparency’ as ever before. That’s when I started searching for a tool that could actually allow people to be open, accessible, and responsive to large audiences. Since there was no adequate tool I could find, I decided to build one,” says CEO Austin Hackett, who cofounded CrowdHall with developer Nick Wientge and Jordan Menzel, a former assistant to Madeleine Albright.

Hackett’s vision is bigger than politics, though. CrowdHall can be used by brands and conference organizers to create two-way conversations with their fans and followers. It’s similar to Facebook in some ways – where “likes” on a post take the place of up-votes – but creating a CrowdHall profile sends a more direct message: you believe in truly engaging with your community.

CrowdHall was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Week mixer in Las Vegas in December.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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