WebGIS | GeoAI | EO

How GIS can help in Elections?

India is the largest democracy in the world and elections is the fundamental pillar of any true democratic country. With the central elections happening in India, we decided to see how GIS can help make the process simpler, efficient and more productive. With the active awareness that has gripped the nation for 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, Geographic Information System (GIS) can be extremely supportive in spreading the required awareness as well as for targeted marketing. Let’s explore to understand how GIS can transform the election process.

What is GIS?

GIS stands for Geographic Information System. Simply put, GIS captures geographical data, analyzes it, and presents visual information on a digital map to solve complex problems or take better decisions. To give you an example, GIS helps organizations in almost all fields such as-
  • Helping retailers in identifying and setting up their stores in the most profitable location.
  • Allowing conservation organizations to predict the consequences of global warming.
  • Assisting police force in apprehending criminals by tracking their criminal activity.
Other areas that GIS finds its applications in include education, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, public safety, telecommunication, transportation, agriculture among others. (We can also link this section to other article on the website for SEO)

A. How GIS can help citizens to choose the right candidate?

GIS has made it easier to know and compare the information of the most deserving candidate for your locality. This will help you make an informed decision in just a few clicks. Now the voters can get every crucial data on the performance of their current MP and assess if he/she should continue or be replaced. Here’re the simple steps on how GIS helps the voters during elections –
1. View your current MP performance and compare with other candidates –
    • Head over to theprint.in/my543-lok-sabha-elections2019. Choose your “state” and “constituency” to get to know all about your current MP and the work done during their term.
    • The graphical data – powered by GIS – lets you visually compare the performance of your current MP with the previous MP. This helps in picking out the one who has done the most work and is the best suitable candidate for your area.
        • Few criterions which lets you compare the performance of your MP include-
      • The activity of your MP on various subjects such as finance, agriculture, education, and health.
      • The amount of fund that has been utilized in developing the local area such as road development and coverage which is illustrated using map.
      • The progress of constituency concerning literacy rate, electrified homes, homes with toilets, sex ratio, underweight children, and low BMI women
    • Moreover, GIS displays the list of contesting candidates on a map with their basic information such as age, party, criminal cases, educational qualification, total assets and liabilities. This information on your candidates can clear up the rest of the picture and assist you in taking the right decision on who deserves your vote.
2. When you go to cast your vote –
  • It can help you find your constituency – Go to electoralsearch.in, put in your EPIC number, search for your details, and find your constituency. Next, click on “view details” to know about your polling date and polling station.
  • Therefore, GIS helps you in locating your booth. Moreover, it also shows you the shortest route to reach as well as parking space available there. Everything is visually seen on an easy to follow map.
  • Furthermore, GIS also tells you if there are traffic jams on the way or suggests you alternate routes if there are barricades present in your route to save your precious time.
  • To help you with emergencies, GIS can also guide you to the nearest police station or hospital as well.

B. How GIS can help political parties

1. Helps in campaign management
    • A GIS helps in organizing and running a successful campaign. The analytics and demography of a particular area can tell a lot about which marketing tactics would work and which won’t. For example- if an area is dominated by youngsters, targeting them with ideas that appeal to youth would work out exceedingly well.
    • Similarly, for fundraising activities, GIS can help you identify the location where people are more likely to donate, considering their socio-economic conditions.
    • GIS gives you the opportunity to know your voters more deeply, address their problems, and reach out to them in an appealing way. It helps to identify the core issues of an area so the parties can layout strategies accordingly in order to win the election.
    • What’s more, GIS can also help keep an eye on social media, which is where the majority of people form their opinion about various political parties. For instance – these parties can keep a track of the trending tags and hashtags on social media to know which direction the political wind is blowing and what people think about them. On the basis of this insight, they can strategize their next move and turn the political situation in their favour.
2. GIS helps avert untoward incidences.
Moreover, GIS helps in identifying the locations where criminal activity rates are high or will be high, making it easier to beef up the ballot security in time. This reduces cost & errors and adds to the transparency and credibility of the elections.

C. How GIS can help government officials?

Adopting GIS is a significant move in making elections smarter and effectual. It can holistically transform the way election processes work and achieve their goal.

  1. GIS improves voter experience, encourages higher voter turnout

    Elections are a festival of democracy, and festivals can often bring along chaos which could ruin the experience for voters.

    That’s where GIS can help address problems, resolve them, and make the entire process well-organized and uncomplicated. Here’s how-

    1. Helps locate voting centers-

      Citizens on the polling day can find their polling booth location using just a simple app, powered by GIS. In addition to the location, voters even get info on poll hours and detailed directions to reach over there with the help of a map, eliminating the need to roam cluelessly for hours.
      What this means is, by making voting centers easily accessible, GIS increases voter participation and turnout too.

    2. Delivers engaging election day results-

      Admit it, nobody likes boring excel sheets or numbers written on a white background.
      GIS technology heard this out and made result viewing absolutely pleasing. It presents data using an interactive map to inform you of various events such as number and age-group of voters, polling percentage, past results, etc.

  2. GIS makes elections operations smoother and real-time
    1. Keeps an eye on election proceedings, improves efficiency and effectiveness

      Election day can bring a lot of surprises, which need a swift response to keep the process flowing smoothly. This could be executed effortlessly only when you have access to live data and the current situation of the polling place.

      GIS lets you take better decisions with its real-time monitoring and helps in allocating the resources where they are needed the most.

    2. Open data portal lets you notify people with authoritative election information

      GIS also provides a one-point interface to transmit data or information related to the election to citizens, journalists, and even the officials and staff of the organization.

      This rules out the possibility of people falling prey to rumors or fake news that are quite rampant during election seasons.

  3. GIS simplifies the redistricting process

    Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries every 10 years. The redistricting process is simply redrawing electoral district boundaries. However, the non-transparency in the process also used to give rise to gerrymandering, which is shaping districts to benefit one political party or another.

    GIS has a solution for it as it brings transparency to the entire redistricting process. Here’s how-

    1. Helps create error-free redistricting plans

      GIS makes the redistricting process simpler by creating redistricting plans that are compliant to legislative requirements. Not just that, it also ensures that these plans pass judicial audits or legal review and are flawless.

      Thus, it brings clarity and transparency to the entire process by making everything visible for all stakeholders, including the citizens.

    2. Includes citizen participation and collaboration

      Working towards a transparent and credible election framework, web-based GIS enables government, advocates, and citizens to complete redistricting plans that comply with legislative requirements. This is done by utilizing online redistricting and geocoding tools.

      Once done, these plans could be shared too. The entire process of engaging citizens brings faith into the system and eliminates doubts.

    3. Let’s you compare redistricting plans and create custom reports

      GIS enables comparing various potential redistricting plans and summarize their data. It is also easier to create a custom report by applying the desired variable that is valuable to the organization.

      Finally, the best redistricting plan is checked for errors and finalized.

    4. Allows checking for common missteps

      GIS also helps in data integrity checking, which is checking data for its accuracy and consistency. Moreover, it allows checking for –

      1. Contiguity- traveling between two points within a district without crossing into another district.
      2. Compactness
      3. Preserving communities of interest

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