April 2, 2013
If you’re still unconvinced that nerds are taking over the world, then clearly you were not tuned into last year’s presidential election. Big data (and the nerds who used it) were impressively relevant last year, as we saw the rise in prominence of Nate Silver (who accurately predicted the election using his math and data nerd powers) and those on Barack Obama’s campaign team (who utilized data mining to identify and target donors and potential supporters). More importantly, though, ElectNext used that big data to help America fall in love with the political process.
Starting today, ElectNext will be rolling out digital political baseball cards that live inside news articles and contain biographical, legislative, and finance data on any federal or state politician mentioned in the coverage. For example:
Although no longer purely centered on the matchmaking aspect of the voter-politician relationship, the company is not abandoning the initial cause for its renown; rather, it is expanding the idea of political education by building these interactive experiences at all levels of government on an everyday basis (as opposed to merely during election cycles).
During last year’s election, ElectNext made headlines when it used big data to help citizens identify the issues and political candidates that reflected their individual views. By Election Day, ElectNext’s voter match system was reached by 3 million voters through over 40 publisher partnerships (which includes NBC Politics and The Washington Post). An impressive feat, but one that could not have been accomplished without big data.
“On the heels of such a big election year, and such a big year for big data, [ElectNext] is even more confident in our philosophy that opening and structuring political data, national to neighborhood, is the key to a new era in technology-driven civic engagement,” says CEO Keya Dannenbaum. “Specifically, that means that at ElectNext we are growing our underlying political database from the federal all the way down to the local levels. And we are building interactive tools on top of that data that live inside political news not just at election time, but every day.”
ElectNext stands to become nulli secundus when it comes to comprehensive political databases. Aside from its users, the company compiles and analyzes data from interest group ratings, campaign finance records, politicians’ websites and public statements, and politicians themselves. It also works with a growing number of national- and state-level open data sources including The Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack, and Follow the Money.
ElectNext was showcased in last month’s Tech Cocktail SXSW Startup Celebration. It today announced $1.3 million in seed funding, led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures along with Liberty City Ventures, Digital News Ventures, Gabriel Investments, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Comcast Ventures, and Investor’s Circle. You can check out ElectNext’s digital baseball cards today through The PBS NewsHour or The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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