Stanford, United States
The Brazilian representative democracy system undergoes a serious representation crisis. The Brazilian Student Association at Stanford wanted to change it, by creating a product aimed at engaging citizens with their political representatives. Our team blends a passion for coding together with a profound political engagement. With have used these interests to unite a group of developers and politic enthusiasts. Our developers have applied their technical expertise to construct the framework of the mobile application, while the political team members have used their knowledge to gauge the need for implementing this project, as well as its business and marketing plans. While our team is composed of the entire Brazilian Students Association at Stanford, the members who will represent Cheque in the Imagine Cup are Michael Troute, Gustavo Torres and Daniel Wainstock. Michael was our front end leader. With his knowledge from previous internships and classes, he mastered AngularJS, HTML, and CSS, which were the tools we needed to use Ionic. Michael was also responsible for writing the web scrapers that got the information from the Congress page and communicated with APIs to store that information in the database. Those and all the others APIs used to support Cheque were developed by Gustavo; he had been a full-stack developer for Anheuser-Busch InBev in a previous internship, and his main expertise is developing web apps using Ruby on Rails. With that knowledge, he was able to design a solid structure for our back end and to deploy it to Azure. He also made some contributions to the front end. Daniel was key on analyzing the current state of Brazilian politics. He identified that there was a lack of a platform to connect constituents and their representatives, and envisioned that creating Cheque could profoundly contribute to the Brazilian democracy. He then worked on designing the specific functionalities brought by Cheque, such as the notifications, the user feedback system, and the representativity index. The other members of the Brazilian Student Association, in addition to supporting the official representatives, focused on building the front end with Ionic and AngularJS, and on surveying citizens and contacting experts to gather information on data analysis, start-up development, management, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
Our country’s electorate needs to be able to interact more closely with its representatives. The complete detachment between Brasília and the Brazilian people hinders the development of our nation. To address this problem, we created Cheque. Whenever a major bill or resolution is voted on in Congress, the users of our mobile application receive a notification which directs them to information about their representative’s specific vote. Users, at the touch of a button, can register their approval or disapproval of that vote. Based on this data, we are able to provide them with a representativity index that measures how well a politician actually represents their electors. Cheque is an unprecedented two-way communication channel between constituents and their representatives, which allows electors to simultaneously remain informed about their representatives’ actions and express their stand on those actions. In fact, rather than just an app, we envision Cheque to be an entire framework built to increase the quality of democracy by fostering representativity and accountability. Some of the ways in which we will make Cheque be more than just a mobile application are: developing additional metrics for political participation and representativity; writing reports to the general public with politicians' representativity throughout their mandates; and producing articles for researchers and the media explaining our methods, data, and findings. Such applications give Cheque an enormous potential to change the way citizens participate in politics - not only in Brazil but also throughout the world.