Who are Data Sciences?
Data Sciences is a Canadian consultancy whose clients includes the Liberal Party in Canada, the Liberal Democrats in the UK, and the Labour party in Norway. They provide data management, advanced analytics, machine learning, and AI, and cutting-edge digital engagement strategies to better measure audience intent and communicate efficiently.
The Labour Party project
In 2019, the Labour party, formerly the Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) approached Data Sciences with a view to building a data-driven campaigning model for the 2021 election cycle in Norway. They wanted to do field campaigning in the major constituencies of Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim. One of their chief concerns, as is commonly seen across Scandinavia was the need to build a direct campaigning model that did not capture personally identifiable data. In other words, how do we talk to individual voters without capturing information that identifies them in relation to the political or community views that they express?
This is where Ecanvasser seemed like the perfect solution for their European based clients. We here at Ecanvasser had already taken the necessary steps back in 2017 to ensure our platfroms was fully GDPR compliant and being an Irish based company we were also very in tune to the needs of European political operations.
Under GDPR regulations - and the laws of Norway itself - protecting individuals data rights is paramount and Data Sciences were conscious to build a system of digital campaigning and intelligence gathering that did not contravene the spirit or letter of these laws.
State of the art database
Their focus in the early stages of the campaign work was to develop a state of the art database for the party built from a range of data sources. Elements like electoral and property registers as well as demographic data can be layered on top of each other to build accurate profiles of areas that the party’s campaign team can then use for voter outreach.
In many cases in the EU now this is becoming the best and perhaps only way to structure voter outreach so that it is effective at reaching the voters with the right message. The Data Sciences team have 15 people on the ground building databases and calibrating data protection systems and settings to ensure citizens are protected throughout the process.
To prepare for 2020, The Labour party ran Ecanvasser during a municipal election in September this year. The local chapter leaders were immediately impressed with the technology although they had to push for their more traditional canvassers to make the leap from paper to tech, once this was obstacle was overcome, the platform was recieved extremely well. Voters who were canvassed with mobile tech appreciated being listened to.
The customization ability of the Ecanvasser app was seen as key selling point to the L abour party as it was based solely on Norwegian needs, including moving from "scripts" to custom fields" based on requests by the Oslo municipal campaign.
The quality of the canvassing done and the data collected by the team was seen as a radical improvement from past methods of campaigning.
Key learnings from this first run with Ecanvasser were positive and solid building blocks are now put in place for further campaigning going forward.
Adapting to new technologies and processes will always need encouragement but by starting in small, local areas, the uptake has been largely positive.The focus for the immediate future for the Labour party will be to hear the concerns of their voters and with Ecanvasser they are succeeding in accomplishing that.