I love apps that make me say “It does what? And it costs how much? Awesome.”
DIY Democracy, designed by The Prometheus Institute, does nothing short of put you in control of the world around you. You can become an active and concerned citizen who makes changes that matter, all from your iPhone.
When you open the app, it automatically detects your location, displaying city, state and zip code. You can change the zip to any location. When it’s set to the location you want, just tap the green arrow.
And hello there – a massive menu with options ranging from “Challenge State Law” to “Report Vandalism.” You can easily filter by federal, state, and local options. What did I choose first? “Run for State Senate,” of course. That’s right, run for senator. There’s an app for that. (And clearly those guys need me.)
I was brought to a page detailing the rules for running for senator – age restrictions, residency, etc. (As of right now, the app is only for California residents, although future versions include access for all 50 states.)
This page also contained information on what one needs to do to establish candidacy, including which forms to fill out, filing fees, dates, and nomination documents. If you scroll all the way down, you can tap Take Action. Which I did.
Here you can upload or take a media snapshot (nice), enter your address, and other notes. Tap and send the info straight to the appropriate clerk for that district, town, whatever you’re running for.
Joking aside, I would hate to see someone use this app to clutter up these clerks’ inboxes. But even if you’re not planning on running for senator, governor, or even president (yes, it’s on there), the information on requirements is a fantastic resource.
On to the stuff citizens will find the most useful. You can contact your mayor. You can report a pothole – the app finds your location and actually writes the letter with all the information for you. No typing and driving, folks.
You can protest local taxes. Again, DIY Democracy generates a professional letter – you just fill in the details. You can report a signal malfunction or sign problem, snap a picture right there, and email it with your complaint to your local public works department. Fire hazards, red tape, repeals – it’s really pretty incredible what you can do with this app.
And all that was just from the Take Action section. Choose Representatives to get a full list of government officials (remember, California only for now). Choose Rights & Laws to get an easy-to-understand explanation of terms like due process, free association, and no unreasonable searches. Join a public forum to see what others have to say on issues that matter to you.
Many of us are not in the habit of being such active citizens, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be. Even something as small as reporting a fallen stop sign may prevent an accident, even save a life. DIY Democracy makes it easy – and it’s completely free. When it’s out for my state, I’ll be all over it.
DIY Democracy is compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch and requires iPhone OS 3.1.2 or later.