The World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council of Educators of People with Visual Disabilities (Icevi) have just closed a new edition of the World Blindness Summit, a meeting held every four years and this time, with one of delay due to the pandemic, has had the Grupo Social Once as host. For the first time, the summit has combined the face-to-face with the virtual, making it the most popular of those held so far. No less than 4,000 people from 152 countries have been able to remotely follow the activities, a record of participation that has also been recorded in the votes that the UMC and Icevi assemblies have used to celebrate during the meeting.
To make these processes transparent and inclusive, ONCE has relied on the Bilbao startup Apps Assembly and its platform to digitize consultative processes. Its technology, in addition to speeding up the count, also makes telematic participation possible, always guaranteeing that the vote will be unalterable and anonymous, with a fundamental addition if we talk about democratizing; accessibility. And not only the geographical one, that too.
“In previous editions the voting had always been in person, which limited participation because some delegates could not travel to the venue,” they explain from the organization, for which, however, the real key was in another aspect. “In addition to guaranteeing the security and transparency of the process, the system had to meet the accessibility requirements so that delegates from different countries, who are blind or with a very serious visual function limitation, could exercise their right to vote with full autonomy and so it has been; It has made it possible to overcome the barriers of traditional voting and users have highlighted the simplicity of the tool and its good accessibility, aspects that have also been highlighted by the World Blind Union (WBU), ”they point out. The balance; the largest participation ever at the World Blindness Summit. A total of 280 delegates from 86 countries were able to exercise their right to vote during the 24 hours in which, to save time differences, the process was open.
«Since we created the platform we already knew that it was essential that the system be adapted for blind people or people with serious vision problems, but now adjusting to the advice that the experts of the Social Group have given us during the preparation of the summit has been invaluable learning. In fact, we have permanently adopted some of the modifications made based on their specifications ”, underlines Guillermo López, promoter of the firm together with Clara del Río.
In the participatory processes carried out from this platform, each vote is encrypted the moment it is cast, so that no one can know what each person has voted for. Each ‘ballot’ is only decrypted when the recount is carried out, which is done as soon as the decreed time arrives for what would analogically be the closing of the polls. At that time the system no longer gives any possibility of linking the vote with the person who cast it. It only allows you to know which of the proposed options it is aimed at. This scrutiny is carried out from the same platform, which guarantees the access of third parties, and immediately. As soon as the vote is closed, the control table appointed by the organization organizing the vote knows the result and can make it public.
“Blockchain technology provides a security seal that guarantees that no one, not even us, can alter a vote. It is an external guarantee to anyone related to the process – López summarizes -. This makes our application a tool designed so that organizations of all kinds can carry out their voting processes with a total guarantee of security and anonymity, either in a fully digital way or by combining telematic voting with traditional processes and that each person chooses cast an electronic vote or put a ballot in a ballot box ». Therefore, it is possible that the organization organizing the consultation allows us to participate from any computer or mobile; that, while facilitating remote voting, have a place with traditional ballot boxes; or that the voting is telematic but carried out from its facilities and with devices arranged for that purpose. The latter is, for example, the formula used by Bilbao Basket to approve its budgets: only those who attended the shareholders’ meeting could vote, but once there they did so over the Internet.
Its business model is based on contracting a subscription. That is, the platform is not configured for a specific vote, but rather admits the possibility of carrying out as many as needed during the subscription period, adjusting aspects such as the census or deadlines in each of them.
Thus, for example, a cooperative, professional college or university can use it to carry out as many votes as it needs. It even allows citizen participation by making it possible for a city council to resort to it to sound the opinion of the population about a specific project since the system facilitates that the processes remain open for several days, something especially useful when those who achieve a large participation.
Apps Assembly was one of the participants in the 2019 edition of B-Venture, the forum organized by THE MAIL and already consolidated as the largest meeting of startups in northern Spain. Since then, Jesús Ángel Bravo, founder of Softec, has joined the project, and the security measures adopted during the pandemic have made many organizations take an interest in its technology, which has allowed them to manage more than 600 votes.