Obama for America Mobile Campaign
Obama for America
Obama for America Mobile Campaign
The application, which was part of a larger digital initiative, was location-aware, designed to deliver timely information, push notifications, and field directives straight from campaign headquarters to your phone. By simply downloading the application anyone could join the campaign, become a volunteer, collect donations, register voters, or go door-to-door in their neighborhood to get out the vote.
Use of data is simple and intuitive. Beguiling simple, but loaded with useful information for the activists and campaign workers.
Obama for America Mobile Campaign
thirteen23 was approached to design and develop the mobile strategy for Barack Obama's 2012 bid for re-election. Working with Obama for America, the team crafted an ambitious set of mobile applications designed to support Obama's large base of campaign volunteers and grassroots supporters. The application, which was part of a larger digital initiative, was location-aware, designed to deliver timely information, push notifications, and field directives straight from campaign headquarters to your phone. By simply downloading the application anyone could join the campaign, become a volunteer, collect donations, register voters, or go door-to-door in their neighborhood to get out the vote.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
“It's been the science-fiction dream of political operatives for years: an army of volunteers, connected to the Internet as they walk from door to door, looking up names on a device and entering their responses electronically. Obama's campaign [has made it] a reality with the release of a new iPhone app that will replace the ubiquitous clipboard for Democratic canvassers.” – NYT, July 31, 2012. The challenge was to leverage the latest in mobile and cloud technology to harness the personal efforts of thousands of grassroots supporters--the same supports that put Obama in office in the first place. As such, we needed to decentralize volunteerism, capitalize on micro-donations, and make it as easy as downloading an application to join and participate in the campaign. Perhaps our largest constraint was executing on the design and development for both iOS and Android in under 60 days. The Obama for America application is the first of its kind. While there have been other applications relating to politics and elections, none have provided a real mechanism or the infrastructure necessary to drive political participation at a grassroots level.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We knew the Obama campaign was engaged in major efforts to collect voter information, secure donations, and galvanize its supporters. We also knew the that election was going to be very tight. The campaign's own projections had the election coming down to a small number of battleground states and even specific precincts within those states. As a result, we wanted to make sure our mobile strategy put the right tools in the hands of volunteers to make them more efficient and effective at turning out the vote in the field. Since the campaign already had a strong web presence, we were confident creating a mobile application that focused on actual campaign tactics would have more impact on the election than a flashy application outlining the Presidents slogans and message. By leveraging the latest in mobile and cloud technology, our goal was to lower the barrier of entry for political activism to drive participation while also providing the campaign with a tactical advantage on the ground. Our intent was to give the campaign direct insight into its operatives at every level of the campaign (e.g.,regional, state, local, and precinct) by arming an army of grassroots supporters with the technology necessary to communicate with each other and gather real-time information in the field..4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
thirteen23 is an interactive design and development firm focused on delivering software for a connected world. We take a user-centered approach to design. Understanding the campaign's message, its volunteers, and the habits of prospective voters was critical to the success of the project. From the standpoint of human interaction, we were less concerned with experimenting with novel forms of interaction and more concerned with bridging the gap between information, people, and politics. We engaged the campaign because we wanted to create an application that encouraged and empowered citizens to actively participate in their local election process. To achieve our goal of activating thousands of grassroots supporters, we needed to: a) hit the ground running; b) research volunteers' needs and workflow in the field; and c) deliver a working solution at the most critical time of the campaign--the three months leading up to the national election.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
As designers our job is to facilitate communication. Mobile computing has the distinct opportunity to increase political participation, to improve government transparency, and to make our elected officials more accountable. By demystifying the political process and making information more accessible, not only can we improve our national, political dialogue, we can make it more inclusive. What better way to begin than to help re-imagine the political process? We firmly believe our project redefined the role of mobile computing in modern day elections. Beyond the impact we had on the campaign and its volunteers, our project also served the administration with a shining example of President Obama's Digital Government Initiative: http://1.usa.gov/Loy3dT Obama Campaign Releases iPhone App for Canvasing, New York Times, July 31, 2012. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/obama-campaignreleases- iphone-app-for-canvassing/ Inside Obama’s Campaign, Rolling Stone, March 29, 2012. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/hope-2-0-inside-obamascampaign- 20120329 “Elections will never be the same.” – Time Magazine, August 21, 2012. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2122255,00.html Obama vs. Romney: ‘Microtargeting’ in Ohio http://news.sky.com/story/1003396/obama-v-romney-microtargeting-in-ohio PBS News Hour story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flozf64bkvM&feature=plcp6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
The beautiful thing about a campaign is you have instant feedback. You also have an election. To not advance the values of Obama's supporters would have been political suicide. Not only would it have led to poor downloads and a major backlash in PR, it could have easily contributed campaign failure, resulting in a lost election. While much of the analytic data collected around Obama's mobile strategy and impressive "ground game" remains under NDA, by the overwhelmingly positive reception and number of downloads we received (over 120k downloads placing the mobile application in the top 20 in the Apple store), we can be confident our message was not only heard, but resonated with volunteers and campaign supporters.. The campaign also received feedback from thousands of volunteers in the field. To this day, Obama's "Geek Squad" (Time Magazine) continues to enjoy significant press as a result of its digital strategy and mobile execution.7. How will your project remain economically and operationally sustainable in the long term?
As a tool for the campaign, the economics of the solution were not important. And, while campaigns typically spin up and then down after an election, the code-base continues to be maintained by a fervent few in a private, online source repository controlled by the DNC. Will the code-base ever get resurected? Perhaps. We don't know. Mobile technology will continue to evolve, but I think the success of our approach will undoubtedly serve as a model and starting point for future campaigns. After the election there were several articles reporting that Republicans had been meeting to discuss its losses and how it might improve its results in future elections. These discussions were reported to also include how the party might improve its tools and technology in the aftermath of the election. "Republicans must get better at utilizing new technology to identify and micro-target potential supporters, they say — while at the same time adding heft to the ground-game operations that get people to the polls on Election Day." Source: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/268643-with-election-loss-still-fresh-gop-struggles-to-unite-on-path-forward#ixzz2KGvjgo7s