Elections in the Niger Delta are a notoriously messy affair. The beating crude heart of Nigerian oil politics; dysfunctional, militant and emotional... demo-crazy.
Four years ago the 2015 elections significantly changed Niger Delta patronage dynamics. Patronage networks redistributed to a new equilibrium as two-party politics took hold for the first time since the onset of democracy in 1999. As candidates jostled for nomination, patronage flowed through competing networks lighting the fuse for a powder-keg 2019 election.
In preparation for this SDN
, a Niger Delta focussed human rights organisation, trained 80 election observers to be deployed across three states, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers as part of an election observation project to dig deep into the dynamics and proactively contribute to less fraudulent and violent elections. One of the key design challenges was how to collate, coordinate and centralise observer information to facilitate analysis and dissemination efficiently and effectively.
Working in partnership, Noctis
and On Our Radar
provided a solution by deploying a customised version of On Our Radar's Radius software to enable observers to send and receive messages in a safe and anonymous way in order to confidently report on the elections.
On Our Radar, a non-profit communications agency for unheard communities, works collaboratively to co-create solutions that tackle the lack of agency, connectivity or resources that prevents marginalised communities from sharing their knowledge and concerns. They specialise in using appropriate technology to develop solutions which bridge the communications gaps between unheard communities, who hold insight into some of the world's most complex issues, and influential audiences.
Designed with vulnerable and marginalised communities at its centre, Radius is an incredibly powerful insight technology, developed as a tool to amplify insight and the realities of a community's lived experience. It is deployed as a consolidated set of cloud-based tools and services that centralise two-way messaging, training & mentoring, community building, insight management & analysis and monitoring & safeguarding. Using these tools, communities can use any mobile handset to access communications training, report on local and personal news and receive rolling guidance and feedback using SMS, voice, or chat-apps, without the need for credit or data.
The customised version of Radius utilised a bespoke structured communication flow that enabled election observers to converse with the system, extracting key incident information to facilitate high quality reporting. Observer reports were automatically consolidated from these messages and visualised in real-time through a user-friendly dashboard that required limited browser resources for use in regions where connectivity is unstable, while being accessible anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
The dashboard enabled project analysts to centralise, coordinate and collate observer communication data (text, voice, image, video and geo-location), and tag information so that election reports could be easily structured into a central database while facilitating direct and group communication for clarification, verification and follow-up of incident reports. Once the reports were validated the data was exported and analysed using Tableau to produce weekly in-depth insights into election trends and dynamics as they emerged. All election insights and reports can be found here
at SDN's dedicated election hub.