Home Startups & Entrepreneurship New Non-Profit Launches Democracy Tech in Yorkshire

New Non-Profit Launches Democracy Tech in Yorkshire

Andrew Gray

An online political tech tool has been rolled-out in Yorkshire by Harrogate solicitor, Andrew Gray. The tool is called Polis. Polis was developed in Seattle and is already being used around the world, including by two Government departments and by the Government of Taiwan. Yorkshire businesses and non-profits are already using Polis to survey large groups of people, anonymously, harvesting the best ideas and unearthing consensus points.

Polis works in an anonymous way, allowing individuals to not just respond to a question, but also then to add to the conversation by posing their own statements for others to respond to. This means that a conversation forms, with a greater depth of understanding being developed. It means that even if the wrong question was initially asked, the Polis then adapts as people contribute.

Andrew Gray, founder of Truth Legal solicitors in Harrogate and Leeds, has brought Polis to Yorkshire. Andrew has launched the non-profit, Crowd Wisdom Project, through which he will run these conversations on behalf of organisations, charities and businesses. Their first major Polis in Harrogate attracted 24,000 votes in seven days, bringing people together and unearthing previously hidden consensus points.

Andrew Gray said:

“From campaigning for the Conservative Party as a teenager, to being heavily involved with the Labour and Liberal Democrats in my 20s and 30s, I have forever been fascinated by politics. But like many people, I struggle with the tribal element of party politics. The Brexit debate was particularly ugly.

Like many people, I don’t like how politics is conducted on social media. We need to be kinder to each other. We now live in a world where people have complex, multi-layered personalities. Polis thrives on complexity, finding consensus points within a large number of diverse people. It is the tool of our age!

Polis is a system for gathering, analysing and understanding what large groups of people think in their own words, enabled by advanced statistics and machine learning. For many years now, Polis has been successfully road-tested in Taiwan, quelling antagonism and helping policy-makers to build sensible and well-supported policies.

Elections are too infrequent to give law-makers and policy-makers any idea of what the people want. On national issues, polling companies and focus groups provide the Government with some limited data. However, on a local level, elected officials and officers have few tools for listening to what the people want, leading to a disconnect with decisions and a disengagement from politics. Polis cures this problem.

Platforms such as Twitter or Facebook often do not reflect where the people are on issues. Local media and decision-makers are often fooled by those who shout the loudest, or have the greatest resources.

Polis can have many applications. We all know that the best conversations are when people listen, learn and, often, adapt their positions. Polis facilitates such a conversation, but on a large scale.

Local businesses are already using Polis already to define company strategy. The anonymity factor allows junior staff and people who are shy or are unfamiliar with speaking up, a real voice, whilst not cancelling free speech. Businesses pay for the service, so that we can offer it free of charge to others.”