Technology

From SimpleGov

Despite great promise, technology has largely failed to disrupt government, especially compared with software innovations in every other sector. No effort has effectively isolated the revolutionary elements of software technology in order to apply them to government. In order to debug the complex and error-laden legacy system known as our government, we must understand the information architecture and how to optimize it.

Software, at its most basic level, is a collection of instructions directing individual processors to perform certain tasks or functions. Similarly, government is a collection of instructions directing individual people to perform certain tasks and functions. Government rule architecture is encoded through thousands of different agencies, with millions of individual officials taking countless actions prohibiting, allowing, or otherwise impacting each individual's tasks and functions.

SIMPLEGOV's innovative policy optimization architecture applies the following core principles of software development:


1st Principle - Peer-to-peer information sharing

Peer-to-peer networks - one of the greatest innovations in modern computing - let each computer act as a server for others, allowing shared access without the need for a central server. Similarly, SIMPLEGOV connects citizens directly with the source of the rule function impacting their lives - namely, individual government agency officials - in order to begin formulating, developing and deploying alternatives. With SIMPLEGOV, each citizen can act as his or her own lawmaker - communicating directly with the agency officials responsible for each issue - without the need for centralized legislative politics.

By contrast, the status quo of politics (and govtech) enforces a top-down architecture, which requires a centralized lawmaking body, and provides only limited public accountability through occasional elections. These systems result in severe information loss, by encoding all public opinion into a simplistic binary scale (Red vs. Blue, R vs. D), and thereby eliminating most of the meaningful meta content (including ordered preferences, core values, and specific policy positions) that could create effective reform and meaningful compromise. With no lossless means to directly send information to power, civic software decays, partisanship becomes entrenched, and citizens must choose between infamous workarounds (e.g. lobbying) or apathetic disengagement.

SIMPLEGOV’s peer-to-peer architecture preserves civic information and enables direct communication among stakeholders to optimize each rule.


2nd Principle - Modular testing and agile development

The best software is continually tested, optimized and deployed in an controlled and evaluated environment. However, the status quo of politics (and govtech) is poorly equipped for any such optimization. Legislative politics favors sweeping one-size-fits all campaign promises, and largely discourages accountability after elections, since past and future results become someone else’s problem.

Like the principles of agile software development, SIMPLEGOV dynamically optimizes each and every policy element on an individual basis, even allowing for multiple simultaneous ratings of officials and agencies. Instead of treating bureaucracy like a monolith, or limiting the platform to specified issues, SIMPLEGOV uses government’s diverse complexity to continually facilitate iterative innovation.


3rd Principle - View Source (the truth behind the screen)

A software interface hides the majority of technical details, while visibly presenting only a smaller subset of information to the user. The best and most effective UI systems thus balance practical usability with technical requirements, enabling ease of use for the novice as well as complex customization for advanced users.

Similarly, while open government is valuable, transparency alone is insufficient to solve all of the problems of modern government. It is humanly impossible to for one person to truly understand the entirety of government action, let alone manage any reform effort. However, a lack of understanding also makes it impossible to fix.

The solution is an increase in transparency within an interface enabling agile peer-to-peer optimization. SIMPLEGOV’s radical transparency architecture enables every citizen to easily view and understand the rule source behind every issue they experience, in order to create positive change.