WASHINGTON – BuildQuorum today launched its new public participation platform, opening a new channel for citizens to interact with their political representatives online.
BuildQuorum enables people to meaningfully engage with the policy making process by collectively expressing their wishes, interests and concerns. BuildQuorum was created as a forum for the online political community to incite and encourage discussion, interaction, and participation.
“One consistent theme among the hundreds and hundreds of people I talked to during the course of my campaigns was frustration with the process and a feeling that they weren’t being heard,” said Sean Bielat, founder and CEO of BuildQuorum. “Far too many Americans feel that their only participation in the political process is voting and aside from that, special interests control the agenda. I want the average American to act as his or her own ‘special interest’.”
BuildQuorum offers a medium through which citizens show support for causes they care about through an online message that is sent directly to the appropriate representative. More importantly, users can create their own topics, which may be more personal to them or their community, and send them directly to politicians.
Users can then choose the legislators whom they want to contact, be it anyone from members of Congress to state legislators, and then send their message directly to that person.
Unlike other petition sites such as Change.org, BuildQuorum users can actually send emails and messages directly to their target representative, rather than showing their support with just an online signature that doesn’t have as strong an impact.
Improving public participation in lawmaking has been a hot topic this year, and the Obama administration initiated its U.S Public Participation Playbook in February 2015. However, according to Cornell University’s Regulation Room e-community initiative, a successful public participation system must address three main barriers to citizen engagement in rule-making:
- Lack of awareness – people are unaware that they are legally entitled be a part of the process.
- Information overload – voluminous and complex rule-making materials are incomprehensible to many.
- Unfamiliarity with how to participate effectively and the means of participating.
“We created this platform to engage the public in politics and law-making and created an online community for discussion and debate,” continued Bielat. “By definition, a “quorum” is the minimum number of representatives required to discuss a legislative matter. The digital age offers us new opportunities to voice the opinions of the many, rather than the selected few, which should be taken into consideration before any decision is made.”
More than just another petition website, BuildQuorum aims to build an inclusive social network built around politics, political interests and real social issues. Users can log in via the website, or by using their Facebook details.
The whole system is designed with ease of use in mind, allowing users to become a part of the network, and make their opinions known in just a matter of minutes.
Created by Sean Bielat, former congressional candidate (2010/2012) and founder of Oneclickpolitics.com in 2014, BuildQuorum was made as the tool to give power back to the people by connecting citizens to politicians and letting them express ideas about the issues most important to them. Large organizations and lobbyists have access and resources to mobilize popular support, but the average person struggles to have his or her voice heard. BuildQuorum aims to bridge this gap and offer real opportunities for public political participation in the digital age.
PLAYGround Digital announces that PLAYMessenger is the only app for iOS and Android that provides children ages 4 and up with the tools and safeguards that enable them to chat safely online. The app, which is leading the way in the relatively new territory of mobile communication for kids, lets children talk with their friends and family through SMS, email, and group chat – under the strict supervision and approval of their parents.
PLAYMessenger is a versatile communications tool built from the ground up with the needs of kids and their parents in mind. Like other messaging apps, users can send texts, photos and voice notes to the people who are important to them. Where PLAYMessenger really stands out is through its layers of security features that ensure kids are kept safe and preserve parents’ peace of mind.
While anyone can sign up, users are unable to share information that identifies them personally, such as email addresses and phone numbers, which safeguards children from predators. Parents can review, approve or block any of their child’s contacts through the PLAYMessenger MyKids section, as well as monitor all messages that have been sent and received. Using the app’s Trust Mode, parents may turn any aspects of the chat on or off, depending on the level of freedom they wish to grant their child. Additionally, AI-powered language filters can detect inappropriate language, instances of bullying and stop this negative content from reaching the user. It also notifies parents if their child repeatedly attempts to send bad language. A report button allows children to register inappropriate or bad behaviour directly from the chat screen.
Moreover, users can only send photos, voice messages and texts if they have been verified through a third-party children’s online privacy company PRIVO–a PLAYGround Digital partner. PLAYMessenger comes with a bank of approved words and phrases, which limits communication between users who have not been authenticated by the company.
Despite the fact that 56 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 12 own a smartphone, most chat apps are not appropriate for children to use. Popular messaging app Kik, for example, is aimed at users 17+ and photo messaging app Snapchat is only recommended for users over the age of 13. Neither app has safeguards put in place that would allow young children to use them safely. PLAYMessenger is the only PRIVO partnered, COPPA compliant app option that prioritizes children’s safety.
“There is a major concern among parents that children using messaging apps like Kik and Snapchat are vulnerable to outsiders,” said CEO and PLAYGround Digital Co-founder Danish Ahmed. “Frighteningly for parents, there are numerous cases of kids being asked to meet up with Kik users, and it’s all happening without their knowledge and outside their control. We realized when parents complained to us about the problems and concerns they have that a solution did not yet exist. It’s exciting to create solutions that actually are useful and can have a positive impact on society.”
Moreover, as part of the app’s educational experience, PLAYMessenger has partnered with “McGruff the Crime Dog” to provide children with McGruff emojis and safety advice within app.
“The company’s objective is not only to provide parents and children with a safe way to communicate online, but also to educate children to the potential dangers of instant messaging, and to provide them with the tools they need to become informed digital citizens,” adds Ahmed.
PLAYGround Digital was co-founded in 2014 by Danish Ahmed. The company is creating digital training wheels for kids and ensuring that parents and children have the educational tools to grow up with technology safely and to become responsible digital citizens. PLAYGround Digital’s unique innovations and partnerships place them at the forefront of an industry in its infancy: communication apps for children.