|Focus||Government transparency, civic technologies, Freedom of Information, citizen empowerment, open source|
|Products||TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, WhatDoTheyKnow, FixMyStreet, Pombola, Alaveteli, EveryPolitician, SayIt, Mapumental & more|
mySociety is an e-democracy project of the UK-based registered charity named UK Citizens Online Democracy. It began as a UK-focused organisation with the aim of making online democracy tools for UK citizens. However, as those tools were open source, the code could be and soon was redeployed in other countries.
mySociety’s more recent mission has been to simplify and internationalise its code to make it easier for people all over the world to run citizen-empowering websites. Additionally, through the Poplus project, it hopes to encourage others to share open source code that will minimise the amount of duplication in civic tech coding.
mySociety was founded by Tom Steinberg in September 2003, and started activity after receiving a £250,000 grant in September 2004. Steinberg says that it was inspired by a collaboration with his then-flatmate James Crabtree which spawned Crabtree's article "Civic hacking: a new agenda for e-democracy".
- TheyWorkForYou is a parliamentary monitoring website which aims to make it easier for UK citizens to understand what is going on in Westminster as well as Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. It also helps create accountability for UK politicians by publishing a complete archive of every word spoken in Parliament, along with a voting record and other details for each MP, past and present.
- FixMyStreet platform is free and open source software which enables anyone to run a map based website and app that helps people inform their local authority of problems needing their attention, such as potholes, broken streetlamps, etc. The UK version is FixMyStreet.com.
- Alaveteli is free and open source software to help citizens write Freedom of Information requests and automatically publish any responses. The UK version is WhatDoTheyKnow.
- WriteToThem is a website which allows UK citizens to contact their elected representatives. Users do not need to know their representatives’ names: instead, using the mySociety software MapIt, the site matches their postcode to its various constituency boundaries, before displaying elected representatives at all levels of UK government from local councillors to MEPs. Users can send messages to them from the site; responses are then sent directly to the user’s email address.
- Pombola is free open source software for running a parliamentary monitoring website inspired by TheyWorkForYou.
- Mapumental is free and open source software for displaying journeys in terms of how long they take, rather than by distance, a technique also known as isochrone or geospatial mapping.
Poplus is an international federation of organisations who benefit through the sharing of civic code and online technologies. It was set up in April 2014 by mySociety in collaboration with Chilean e-democracy organisation Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente.
Poplus encourages the development of free, open source civic 'blocks' of software, which it terms 'Components'. These are intended to save time for anyone making one of the classic civic tech tools for parliamentary monitoring, accountability, transparency, et cetera.
The following Components were developed by mySociety. Those developed by other organisations may be seen on the Poplus website.
- SayIt: software for publishing transcripts of debates (e.g. from parliaments, court proceedings and meetings
- WriteIt: software for running a site that enables users to write to politicians, in public or private.
- MapIt: software for matching a geographical point with its legislative boundaries. MapIt underlies several mySociety websites such as FixMyStreet and WriteToThem, where it allows for a user to input a postcode and be matched to the correct authority or representative.
- EveryPolitician: Storing and sharing data on every politician in the world, in structured open data
- Gaze: a gazetteer web service
Discontinued or passed to new owners
- Downing Street e-Petitions: mySociety developed the original solution for publishing petitions on the website of the Prime Minister's Office
- Pledgebank: Allowed users to make pledges of the format: "I will do x if y number of people agree to do the same".
- HassleMe: a website that sends reminders sporadically, now run independently of mySociety
- HearFromYourMP: a site encouraging MPs to email their constituents, closed May 2015
- FixMyTransport: a site, in the model of FixMyStreet for contacting any transport operator in Britain about problems with public transport. Correspondence was published online. The site ran from 2011 to 2015
- PopIt: Storage of open data on politicians
- ScenicOrNot: a gamification-powered site which invites users to rate photographs according to their ‘scenicness’. The results fed into Mapumental. In 2015 ScenicOrNot was passed over to the Warwick Business School where it is being used to track the correlation between health and the beauty of one’s surroundings
- GroupsNearYou: a map-based application that enabled users to find local community groups in their local area.
- NotApathetic: a site where people who planned not to vote in the United Kingdom general election, 2005 could explain why.
- Placeopedia: an online gazetteer consisting of a mashup of Google Maps and the English Wikipedia.
- "Companies House filing history". Companies House. July 13, 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Overview of UK Citizens Online Democracy". The Charity Commission.
- "Of governments and geeks". The Economist. February 4, 2010.
- "UK's MySociety Releases How-To Guides, Source Code for Open Government Activists". Tech President. 2012-03-26.
- "Is Civic Hacking Becoming 'Our Pieces, Loosely Joined'?". Tech President. 2012-07-25.
- "PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups". Tech President. 2014-05-02.
- "mySociety: Open democracy, open source". H-Online. 2008-09-19.
- Transparency in Politics and the Media: Accountability and Open Government. 2013-10-28. ISBN 9781780766768.
- Robert Jaques (30 Oct 2003). "Calling Coders for the Greater Common Good". The Register. Retrieved 2 Dec 2014.
- "Ideas for web activism sought out". BBC News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- James Crabtree (6 Mar 2003). "Civic hacking: a new agenda for e-democracy". Opendemocracy.net. Retrieved 2 Dec 2014.
- "10 Top Candidates To Become Government Chief Data Officer". Computer World. 2015-08-21.
- "MapIt : map postcodes and geographical points to administrative areas".
- "Site axes MP over 'fake' e-mails". 21 February 2006 – via bbc.co.uk.
- Tempest, Matthew (20 February 2006). "MPs show no haste to post".
- "These tools let you map journey times in the world's major cities". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Mapumental: Travel time maps". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- New Directions in Political Science - Responding to the Challenges of an Interdependent World. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230228481. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente".
- "PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups".
- "Three key takeaways from the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival".
- "Poplus — Social Tech Guide".
- "What Components currently exist?".
- MySociety launches SayIt, civic software for publishing 'smart' transcripts (Wired)|date=2014-01-17
- "Gaze – the mySociety Gazetteer web service".
- Committee, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Procedure (22 May 2007). "Public petitions and early day motions: first report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence". The Stationery Office – via Google Books.
- "MySociety - Participedia".
- "The petition, the 'prat' and a political ideal". 13 February 2007 – via bbc.co.uk.
- Pledgebank.com Archived 2014-12-01 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Ideas for web activism sought out". BBC News. April 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- "The story of Pledgebank / mySociety".
- "HassleMe". Archived from the original on 2007-04-06.
- "A future for HassleMe / mySociety".
- HearFromYourMP.com Archived 2007-04-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- Dean, Michael February. "HearFromYourMP: a little piece of mySociety history / mySociety".
- hearfromyourmp.com Archived 2007-04-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- Arthur, Charles (30 August 2011). "FixMyTransport uses crowdsourcing to solve travel problems".
- 29, Cameron January; Pm, 2015 at 12:04. "Running a site like FixMyTransport / mySociety".
- "Welcome to PopIt".
- "A new home—and a new purpose—for ScenicOrNot / mySociety".
- "Not Apathetic - not voting in the 2005 general election?".
- "Placeopedia: Wikipedia Meets Google Maps". Lifehacker. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
- Official website
- UK Citizens' Online Democracy, the charity that owns mySociety
- Charity Commission. UK Citizens Online Democracy, registered charity no. 1076346.
- Freedom of Information: Going beyond the scoop, Journalism.co.uk