The ability to gather data about voters, hone in on specific slices of a demographic and tailor a message to constituents has been a game changer in how political campaigns are run, predicted and won. While many organizers at the local level understand that big data tools can give a particular candidate an edge, those tools have historically only been available to high-power corporations or giant political machines — but new technology and services are leveling the playing field.
Big ambitions, small budget
When tech consultant Alejandro Lamothe came to work on the San Antonio mayoral campaign for Manuel Medina, he wanted to leverage data and technology in order to create a more effective way to reach supporters and urge them to get out on election day. The challenge was that a custom-made app or software that could do this would be far too expensive for Medina's grassroots campaign.
Medina’s campaign involved a lot of block walking, with volunteers going door to door, speaking with potential voters. The issue was that volunteers were still using paper and clipboards, taking polling data and transferring it to Excel Sheets and Google Calendars. Ultimately, this was an inefficient way to make a report and store data. Though this personal and old-fashioned method of connecting with voters was effective, it needed some help from modern digital methods of utilizing data.
A powerful solution
Faced with an array of data living on different formats (Smartsheet, Excel, Google Docs, etc.), Lamothe set out to find a way to bring all these together in a single database equipped with a number of features that would make analyzing and collecting the data easier.
Lamothe turned to AppSheet to create a customized app. The process was remarkably easy, as AppSheet was able to consolidate the many spreadsheets of existing data. As a result, he was able to develop an entirely unique app suited for the campaign’s unique needs.
With the app, volunteers and pollsters were able to use this powerful tool right on their cell phones with the following features:
- All information canvassers gathered was automatically saved and updated in real time.
This meant all team members had access to continually updated voter information.
- A dashboard that gave an overview of the total number of people and households
reached, demographic information and who they were likely to vote for. This information
was further segmented into voting districts.
- The app utilized Google Maps to mark which homes had been visited, whether people
were home or not and if the canvassers needed to return. Relevant voter information (age, gender, who they were most likely to vote for) was conveniently stored alongside this geographic information.
Though many were older and not digital natives, the intuitive nature of the app was remarkable. Within two weeks they were able to reach around 35,000 individuals, greatly expanding their database and improving the campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort.
Simple, accessible, revolutionary
For Lamothe, the process of seeing an app take form was, in his words, “enchanting.” What he most liked was the ability of the app to draw data from multiple platforms, making the entire process highly streamlined. “I believe the app will transform and change how people will use information,” Lamothe says.
In a world where being able to properly use data is increasingly important, organizations of all sizes will want to look into unique, app-based solutions to meet their needs.
Please check out Alejandro Lamothe's video here on how he designed the app and how volunteers used the app.
Not sure what app might be helpful to you? Go to our Sample App page, copy apps for free and customize your apps your way.
Citizen Developers are Workplace Innovators. They build custom apps to improve and optimize work processes in their organizations, introducing innovative ways to "get work done." As citizen development becomes the new normal, it promotes innovation, agility, and flexibility throughout an organization. To learn more about AppSheet and citizen developers, check out the following page: