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PolicyPulse tests Web app aimed at giving citizens more political clout

Excerpt

 The following story ran in the June 27, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News.

July 3, 2012

By SHERYL JEAN

In the Mobile Age, people have become adept at using phones and other devices to search for information, reserve a lunch table or buy shoes.

Now, Dallas startup PolicyPulse aims to use its Web app to empower residents to participate in civic issues in their neighborhood, strengthen community ties and hold government more accountable.

PolicyPulse plans to publish the voting agendas of city governments and public agencies, let citizens share their opinions and notify city leaders, using social gaming techniques. Such agendas are open to the public, but many people don’t know that or don’t know how to access them, said co-founder Andres Ramos.

“We want this to be a new way in which people govern their neighborhoods,” said Ramos, an East Los Angeles native who after college joined Teach For America in San Juan, Texas, in one of the nation’s poorest counties. “We want to turn regular people into citizen lobbyists.”

PolicyPulse just began a pilot test of the second phase of its Web app, starting with the Dallas Independent School District. A full launch is scheduled for July 11. Ramos hopes to develop a mobile app, too.

People are increasingly using Web and mobile apps to strengthen their civic engagement, take part in cultural conversations and express political views....

“Our goal was to find a way to start a conversation here and continue,” said Candy Crespo, assistant director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, a sponsor of the forum. “The platform with the community posing and answering questions was fantastic.”...