The countdown to Connect has begun

News from Lib Dem HQ of the Liberal Democrats’ new campaign software:

Campaigning across the party is set to get a major boost when Connect comes online later this year. Connect is the UK version of the world’s leading campaign software that’s being built for the party by Voter Activation Network (VAN).

It is based on the tried and tested technology successfully used by Barack Obama and the Democrats in the US and in several other countries around the world. Connect combines high level security and stability, powerful campaigning tools and a user friendly experience.

Kingston & Surbiton Lib Dem MP Edward Davey visited the US during the campaign in 2008 and saw the US version of the system at first hand.

Barack Obama’s campaign software was on a different level to anything I’ve seen before.

I’m delighted that Lib Dem campaigners will now have access to the same kind
of technology. It will give our campaigners an edge they have not enjoyed in years.

Connect will give local campaigners faster and more secure access to their data. It features powerful tools that will help us campaign smarter and better than ever before.

Connect was chosen after an exhaustive search of campaign software in use at home and around the world. Three packages (including EARS) were shortlisted. and their features and functionality were rigorously tested.

A panel of party members including representatives from ALDC, the Parliamentary Party, the Regions and the PCA found the Connect package a clear winner.

Head of Campaign Development Team Jake Holland said,

We believe that this is the best campaign software available anywhere in the world today.

We are now working closely with VAN to get Connect ready for introduction later this year. We have started holding Webinaars demonstrations so that campaigners can see the product for themselves and contribute to the development process.

If you would like to know more about Connect and how it will help your local campaigning email [email protected] today.

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18 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 30th Aug '11 - 4:45pm

    Well I for one hope to be able to continue to use EARS for the time being. A nationally centralised cloud-based database does not seem to me to be a good idea.

    Tony Greaves

  • Daniel Henry 30th Aug '11 - 4:57pm

    What don’t you like about it?

  • This posting doesn’t seem to say anything new to what was being said about 3 months ago though.

  • I think this is the same software the Liberal Party of Canada used and…um, er…they lost around 40 seats at the last election!! Not sure that having EARs or VAN are going to change very much tbh…

  • I for one am looking forward to moving over to using connect as EARS has been outdated for many years now.

  • Great. The new Connect software will allow campaigners work smarter and better than ever before, including new sophisticated tools to pledge and lie with pinpoint accuracy, right down to postcode level.

    Isn’t technology wonderful?

    If only we could develop the software to enhance the integrity of our elected officials.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Aug '11 - 7:28pm

    This does sound rather like the worst sort of sales ‘hype’. I am far from convinced that there will be widespread uptake of this system, especially given the costings proposed for ‘larger constituencies’. Might one be forgiven for thinking that postings like these (about electoral support methodology) is a useful distraction for the Party’s total failure to address the poor national campaign of 2010 which only generated a ‘balanced parliament’ and Coalition Government due to a statistical fluke and one single blistering TV debate performance by Nick Clegg?

    “”Three packages (including EARS) were shortlisted. and their features and functionality were rigorously tested.””

    Could one be directed to where one might see the factor-by-factor comparative analysis of the three systems which were tested?

  • Erlend Watson 31st Aug '11 - 11:18pm

    John Brace referred to the duty to respond to data protection requests. Who will legally own the data because I assume they will have to respond on Connect issues. Either national or local but not both I assume. Of course if local people squirrel away data on unrelated files that is another matter but I assume it will all be referred to Great George Street.

    And the issue of ownership seems quite important. If a local party decides to go back to Ears do they own their data. Or in an area without elections on a year they decide not to renew anything that year so as to save money will the data still belong to them, so do they have to download it?

    Erlend

  • Tony Greaves 1st Sep '11 - 2:40pm

    Will someone issue a clear statement of how much Connect is costing the party this year and each future year and where the money will come from?

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Sep '11 - 10:23am

    Good News – EARS is going nowhere – and you do not need to pay £150 more per non target constituency for an inferior Obama program. You can make the comparison yourself this Autumn as EARS subscribers will be getting Internet EARS at no cost whatsoever.

    And INTERNET EARS (v9) will be with most of us in around 5 or 6 weeks.

    EARS v9 will cost you NOTHING this year and HALF the rival offer next year. – ie £150 cheaper than the rival offer for a non-target seat and around £250 cheaper for a target seat. For borough parties that saves over £500 – and EARS 9 claims it will be better than the rival offer too! EARSv9 will contain HandS – for no extra cost – so it will cost the equivalent of £12 / month for non-target seats and around £20 / month for target seats

    INTERNET EARS claims to have all the facilities of the rival offer, along with some extra ones too – but with the familiar interface users already know.

    EARS 9 can automatically create delivery routes and then show you google maps with coloured pins in each road.
    EARS 9 can also show where your data is – on a google map with a pin in each postcode with lots of data.
    EARS 9 also integrates your membership, helper and supporter data – at no extra cost.
    EARS 9 syncs with your other users over the internet – automatically – BUT DOES NOT RELY ON CONSTANT INTERNET ACCESS.
    EARS Lite is a free new Web interface addon to EARS that runs on I Phones, Android, or on any web-browser.
    EARS Lite can be used now for Canvassing (with google maps), Knockup or Telling – and also marked Register input.
    EARS Lite can thus be used to enable tellers, canvassers or knockers up to not only see lists on their phone or tablet but also enter canvass data or marked registers on any type of computer via any internet browser – without needing full-blown EARS installed. At the same time, campaign managers can share access to the full EARS 9 (with access to helper and member data) via the internet.

    EARS 9 has a new easier to use Marked Register input screen (in both full blown EARS and EARS lite).
    No more typing numbers. Just a single click or screen tap (or key press) against each name to mark them as voted.

    EARS 9 has a high level of security, even more powerful campaigning tools and a familiar user friendly experiance.

    The EARS team suggest that we should not rely on a” flawed Party HQ decision making process that never saw the true facts”. Is this so? They claim that the Cowley St team last spring NEVER SAW the true EARS 9 that users will soon see. In the Autumn. Party managers compared ‘nothing’ with ‘nothing’ – as neither EARS nor VANs actually had any UK software to demonstrate. The EARS team claim that the right time to decide will be the end of this year – when each offer can be compared for the first time.

    The EARS team tell us:

    1) The party has only paid for limited hours from those VAN programmers (ie half a man-week a month). In contrast, the EARS team now has more staff and more programmers than the party has paid VANs for. EARS is not going away. They claim that Van is.

    Other questions posed by the EARS team:

    What support will Vans give next year whilst they are struggling to re-elect Obama?
    Did Van really help the Canadian Liberal Party who just got their worst ever result?
    Can Party HQ really cope with your support needs in the way EARS have for 30 years?

    Van is a commercial organisation. EARS is a party body staffed only by experienced Lib Dem activists.

    All Lib Dems have the right to decide – based on a proper comparison when EARS v9 is ready.
    EARS also announce ‘great plans for EARS 10’ – to come out next year too. The EARS team area asking Local Parties to demand that party HQ re-examine the choices at the end of this year – as only then can each offer be truely compared. They point out that EARS v9 is the tried and tested program that ALREADY WORKS in the UK.
    It already DOES have the means to deal with UK registers, UK rolling registers – and to add new houses within your walk order. EARS are close to the end of their latest phase of development work – and are starting the final stage of beta testing. They are asking constituency parties to contact them now if you wish to help with that beta testing work.

  • When I retired from the IT scene some years ago, the concept of ‘system life cycle’ (Requirements analysis,
    System specification to meet those requirements, and System implementation) was in my experience a successful methodology in implementing systems using computers, particularly when multiple users required access via sub-schemas and access rights to a proper data base.
    It would be interesting to see either the requirements analysys, or (more mundanely) the criteria that were
    used to inform the selection of Connect. As a Data Officer, I have minmal knowledge of Connect (via a webinar),
    and see the main problem being the implementation of the transfer of EARS data , given the complexity
    of EARS file structures. Also the expected (but largely unanticipated) boundary changes, and the work
    of the White Paper on IVR proposing optional voter registratiion could present some difficulties for both EARS
    and Connect. In connection with the latter are the new software and procedures needed by town halls to submit
    (potentially incomplete) data about the electoral register.

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