mySociety

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mySociety
MySociety logo.png
mySociety logo
MottoWe help people be active citizens[1]
Founded2003 (2003)
FounderTom Steinberg
FocusGovernment transparency, civic technologies, Freedom of Information, citizen empowerment, open source
Location
  • United Kingdom
ProductsTheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, WhatDoTheyKnow, FixMyStreet, Alaveteli, EveryPolitician & others
CEO
Mark Cridge[2]
Employees
21 (As of 2020)[3]
Websitewww.mysociety.org Edit this at Wikidata

mySociety is a UK-based registered charity,[4] previously named UK Citizens Online Democracy.[5] It began as a UK-focused organisation with the aim of making online democracy tools for UK citizens.[6] However, those tools were open source, so that the code could be – and soon was – redeployed in other countries.[7]

mySociety went on to simplify and internationalise its code[8] and through the now dormant Poplus project, encouraged others to share open source code[9] that would minimise the amount of duplication in civic tech coding.

Like many non-profits, mySociety sustains itself with a mixture of grant funding[10] and commercial work, providing software and development services to local government and other organisations.[11]

mySociety was founded by Tom Steinberg in September 2003,[12] and started activity after receiving a £250,000 grant in September 2004.[13] 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".[10][14]

In March 2015, Steinberg announced his decision to stand down as executive director of mySociety.[15] In July of that year, Mark Cridge became the organisation's new CEO.[2]

Projects[edit]

  • 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,[21] 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;[22][23][16] responses are then sent directly to the user's email address.
  • Mapumental is free and open source software for displaying journeys in terms of how long they take,[24] rather than by distance, a technique also known as isochrone or geospatial mapping.[25]
  • SayIt:[26] software for publishing transcripts of debates (e.g. from parliaments, court proceedings and meetings).[27]
  • MapIt:[28] 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 local authority or representative.
  • Gaze:[29] a gazetteer web service

Discontinued or passed to new owners[edit]

  • Poplus[30] was an international federation of organisations who benefitted 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[31][32] and encouraged the development of free, open source civic 'blocks' of software, which it termed 'Components', intended to make it easier for people to build civic tech tools.[33] In 2014 Nominet awarded Poplus a place in the Nominet Trust 100.[34] Poplus ceased being maintained in 2016.[35]
  • Pombola was free open source software for running a parliamentary monitoring website inspired by TheyWorkForYou. While it is still available, it is no longer being actively maintained.
  • Downing Street e-Petitions: mySociety developed the original solution for publishing petitions on the website of the Prime Minister's Office.[36][37][38] In 2011 the system was replaced with the government's own development.
  • EveryPolitician:[39] a project that ran from 2015 to 2019, with the aim of storing and sharing data on every politician in the world, in structured open data
  • Pledgebank:[40] Allowed users to make pledges of the format: "I will do x if y number of people agree to do the same".[41][42] Now dormant, with archives still browsable.
  • HassleMe:[43] a website that sends reminders sporadically, now run independently of mySociety[44]
  • HearFromYourMP:[45] a site encouraging MPs to email their constituents, closed May 2015[46]
  • FixMyTransport:[47] 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 and has now been frozen, though archives are still browsable.[48][49]
  • PopIt:[50] Storage of open data on politicians
  • ScenicOrNot:[51] 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.[52][53]
  • GroupsNearYou:[54] a map-based application that enabled users to find local community groups in their local area.
  • NotApathetic:[55] a site where people who planned not to vote in the 2005 United Kingdom general election could explain why.
  • Placeopedia: an online gazetteer consisting of a mashup of Google Maps and the English Wikipedia.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "mySociety". mySociety. 15 March 2020. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "mySociety filing history". Companies House. 13 July 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Meet the Team". mySociety. 15 March 2020. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Overview of UK Citizens Online Democracy". Charity Commission for England and Wales. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Citizens make society". mySociety. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Of governments and geeks". The Economist. 4 February 2010.
  7. ^ "UK's mySociety Releases How-To Guides, Source Code for Open Government Activists". TechPresident. 26 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Is Civic Hacking Becoming 'Our Pieces, Loosely Joined'?". TechPresident. 25 July 2012.
  9. ^ "PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups". TechPresident. 2 May 2014.
  10. ^ a b "mySociety: Open democracy, open source". H-Online. 19 September 2008.
  11. ^ Nigel Bowles; James T. Hamilton (28 October 2013). Transparency in Politics and the Media: Accountability and Open Government. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781780766768.
  12. ^ Robert Jaques (30 October 2003). "Calling Coders for the Greater Common Good". The Register. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Ideas for web activism sought out". BBC News Online. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  14. ^ James Crabtree (6 March 2003). "Civic hacking: a new agenda for e-democracy". Open Democracy. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  15. ^ "10 Top Candidates To Become Government Chief Data Officer". Computer World. 21 August 2015.
  16. ^ a b Margetts, Helen (4 May 2010). "The Internet in Political Science". In Hay, Colin (ed.). New Directions in Political Science — Responding to the Challenges of an Interdependent World. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 79. ISBN 9780230228481. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Transport for London to use MySociety's FixMyStreet". UKAuthority. 1 November 2019.
  18. ^ Becky Hogg (3 April 2008). "Information revolution". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  19. ^ Alex Skene (1 July 2011). "WhatDoTheyKnow's Share of Central Government FOI Requests — Q2 2011". mySociety. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  20. ^ Alex Parsons (9 July 2019). "Public FOI: WhatDoTheyKnow and central government". mySociety. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  21. ^ "MapIt: map postcodes and geographical points to administrative areas". mySociety.
  22. ^ "Site axes MP over 'fake' e-mails". BBC News Online. 21 February 2006.
  23. ^ Tempest, Matthew (20 February 2006). "MPs show no haste to post". The Guardian.
  24. ^ Hickey, Ed (12 November 2015). "These tools let you map journey times in the world's major cities". CityMetric. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  25. ^ "Mapumental: Travel time maps". mySociety. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  26. ^ "SayIt".
  27. ^ Solon, Olivia (17 January 2014). "mySociety launches SayIt, civic software for publishing 'smart' transcripts". Wired. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  28. ^ "MapIt". mySociety.
  29. ^ "Gaze – the mySociety Gazetteer web service". mySociety.
  30. ^ "Poplus". Poplus. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  31. ^ "Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente". Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente.
  32. ^ O'Neill, Eilís (2 May 2014). "PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups". TechPresident. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  33. ^ "Three key takeaways from the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival".
  34. ^ "Poplus". Social Tech Guide.
  35. ^ "Commits to poplus/home-poplus". Poplus. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2020 – via GitHub.
  36. ^ Public petitions and early day motions: first report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence. Parliament of the United Kingdom. 22 May 2007. ISBN 9780215034168 – via Google Books.
  37. ^ "mySociety". Participedia.
  38. ^ "The petition, the 'prat' and a political ideal". BBC News Online. 13 February 2007.
  39. ^ "EveryPolitician". mySociety.
  40. ^ "Pledgebank.com". mySociety. Archived from the original on 1 December 2014.
  41. ^ "Ideas for web activism sought out". BBC News Online. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  42. ^ "The story of Pledgebank". mySociety. 24 February 2015.
  43. ^ "HassleMe". mySociety. Archived from the original on 6 April 2007.
  44. ^ "A future for HassleMe". mySociety. 16 March 2015.
  45. ^ "HearFromYourMP.com". Archived from the original on 11 April 2007.
  46. ^ "HearFromYourMP: a little piece of mySociety history". mySociety. 5 February 2015.
  47. ^ "FixMyTransport".
  48. ^ Arthur, Charles (30 August 2011). "FixMyTransport uses crowdsourcing to solve travel problems".
  49. ^ Nixon, Myfanwy (29 January 2015). "Running a site like FixMyTransport / mySociety". mySociety. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  50. ^ "Welcome to PopIt".
  51. ^ "ScenicOrNot".
  52. ^ "A new home—and a new purpose—for ScenicOrNot / mySociety".
  53. ^ "ScenicOrNot".
  54. ^ Groupsnearyou.com
  55. ^ "Not Apathetic - not voting in the 2005 general election?".
  56. ^ "Placeopedia: Wikipedia Meets Google Maps". Lifehacker. Retrieved 7 August 2016.

External links[edit]