ESR Technologies

Technology is critically important in administering elections; no country can run away from using technology in managing free and fair elections. Technology has been used to conduct voter education campaigns, voter registration, managing and training staff, printing ballot papers, to record, count, transmission and publication of the election results.

Technology, when applied appropriately, it can effectively increase the efficiency, transparency and credibility of the electoral process. The advent of ICTs has made it easier for practitioners, citizens and voters to engage in electoral process and get real time and rapid responses to emerging issues which might in one way or other affect elections.

The open ESR technology is one tool that has been used in African countries during elections. This has included digital mapping tools, internet and mobile device based solutions.  The aim of using these technologies is to improve the electoral process.

Using technologies in elections is not an end in itself but it offers possibilities for administering electoral processes, especially when implemented appropriately and timely.

SMS

Short message services works in a way that messages can be stored, retrieved and answered at a user’s convenience. It is an effective technology as it reaches a larger population with electoral related activities because many people today own mobile phones.

The ESR Toolkit comprises of an SMS reporting tool which allows users to send an SMS to an Election Situation Room database to report an incidence emanating from election matters. This enables the Election Situation Room to respond in real time. The SMS platform is always set up using a short code which is always toll free to allow for users to send information easily.

Mobile Applications

The ESR Technology utilizes the flexibility of mobile applications to collect detailed information in various formats like audio, video, image and GPS. Depending on the functionality of the phone used, textual data captured via mobile phone can be combined with data in other formats so as to substantiate the information provided in text.

Ushahidi

This is a crowdsourcing platform that enables effective data collection, visualization and interactive mapping allowing people to submit information text messaging using mobile phone, email or web format.

Ushahidi was developed to map reports post-election violence reports in Kenya in 2008. Since then it has been used to monitor elections and other issues across the world.

USSD

USSD is used to send text between mobile phone and an application program in the network. Applications include prepaid roaming or mobile chatting. The USSD technology can be used in ESR platform to collect data with predefined answers or answers that can be grouped for further analysis. The data is received and analyzed in real time to effect real time analysis and rapid responses.

Rapid Pro

This a free and open source framework designed to send and receive data using basic mobile phones, manage complex workflows, automate analysis and present data in real time. Rapid Pro platform can be used to aid the development of robust tech component for the ESR.

Google Maps

Google maps offers satellite imagery, street maps, 360 degrees views of streets and public transportation. The Election Situation Room system uses Google maps for mapping events and incidents in the system. It uses map markers, color coordination and labels to distinguish events and incident types. The Maps allows for zooming in and out functionality.

iCharts

It allows for data grouping and visualizes it on the systems. These provide a wide range of chart types giving the ESR system a more precise representation of system information to make quick analysis on decisions.

Collection of real time data as provided by iChart can be utilized well within ESR to enable real time quick event and incident responses.