The DemTools Are Yours Now: A Retrospective

Launched and Ready to Democratize

We did it and what a crazy ride it’s been! Yesterday at the Carnegie Library, we unveiled DemTools 2.0, our revamped suite of tools designed to provide user-friendly, scalable solutions for common democratic problems. Now that our tools are officially available to the public, we encourage you to check them out  at www.dem.tools while take a few collective sighs of relief.

DemTools was first launched in August last year, featuring Elections, Issues, and two flavors of Civi (CiviMP and CiviParty). In the past 16 months, the tools have been used all over the world by all kinds of organiations, giving us substantial feedback for improving and expanding the tools. We built some new ones, too: Petitions, FixMyCommunity, and DKAN. At this very moment, 2.0 is ready to go in five languages (English, French, Arabic, Spanish, and Russian) and scalable to meet the needs of our partners. All of the tools were built with mobile-friendly designs and to meet major web accessibility standards, enhancing access for potential users all across the globe. With the help of these webapps, we’re so excited to build new and enhance existing partnerships for the benefit of democracy worldwide.

The NDItech team is extremely grateful to everyone who’s helped us along the way to the conclusion of this project. We have excellent friends at CiviCRM, TimbaObjects, mySociety, NuCivic, the US CTO’s office, Amazon Web Services, and our friends in NDI who helped make DemTools happen from the very beginning. Without their gracious support, this project would still be on the ground and not transforming global politics as we know it.

The launch itself was a huge success. We packed Carnegie Library’s main hall with more than 230 attendees while 120 people viewed our livestream. Guests were provided with an awesome guidebook and the chance to get their very own free instance of Civi. Our keynote addresses from Governor Howard Dean and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo properly highlighted the importance and value of DemTools and spoke volumes about the effects technology is having on politics and government all over the world. Following on the heels of a superb overview of DemTools by our leader Chris, Christine led a panel of esteemed experts to discuss the themes of technology and democracy and take questions from the audience. Finally, a round of lightning talks took place, taking deep dives into facets of the project, including digital inclusion, open source software, and use cases of the tools.

Be sure to check out our demos linked above to learn more or shoot us an email at to find out how you can start using DemTools to make a difference in your community.

This has been such a big effort for the team that we wanted to share everyone’s thoughts:

Christine:

I was incredibly honored to be a part of yesterday’s event and to moderate an inspiring panel on technology and civic engagement. With insightful commentary from personal heroes including Governor Howard Dean and rising stars such as Kat Duffy and Seth Andrews, yesterday’s event was truly a landmark event. Most importantly, I am incredibly grateful for the hard work and commitment to vision that our entire team shared in believing that EVERYONE in the world should have access to sophisticated tools to support democratic ideals.

Meron:

The launch of a new project or initiative is always an exciting (albeit daunting) one. Having been around for the rollout of DemTools 1.0 last year, what I’ve enjoyed about these types of events is the chance to meet some of the individuals and organizations that are likely to use the tools our team has worked so hard to make available. The chance to see and hear the vision behind DemTools come to life during these interactions remains one my favorite parts of these types of initiatives.

Jared:

What a sprint it’s been over the last several months! NDItech has transformed itself with a start-up mentality, and in collaboration with so many important partners, has been able to push out a robust set of new tools and improve on existing ones. The DemTools 2.0 launch, with many impressive speakers and panelists, was an important way to refresh this initiative. Now begins the hard work of strengthening democratic change programs and helping our political partners integrate the tools effectively. Onwards.

Jonathan:

I’m still pretty sore from moving all of the AV equipment, but I’ve truly enjoyed my work on DemTools thus far. Since my first day at NDI, I envisioned every ounce of work and time as another ingredient to making a successful launch and effective, credible tools to make the world at least a bit more democratic. I’m thrilled to see the launch process to its completion and to be part of such a magnificent team, but the heavy lifting is just beginning. I look forward to getting this project on its feet and sprinting toward the people it can truly benefit.

David:

DemTools 2.0 has been an incredible journey for us. Our team has grown to meet the ambitious goal of radically improving three applications while simultaneously introducing three new tools. We've expanding our capacity into new areas of development, design, engineering, and communications. Most exciting for me is that this is just the beginning, as we continue to bring these powerful tools to the world.

Chris:

I couldn’t be more excited about the future of DemTools or prouder of the whole NDItech team. We’ve basically been running our own little startup within NDI (we even got a beanbag chair) and it’s meant a huge amount of additional work for everyone. Not only late nights and logging in on weekends, but learning new workflows (hello, Jira) and communication tools (nice getting to know you, Slack). We’ve also picked up a whole cast of new characters along the way, with friends like Christopher Gervais, Tim Akinbo, Zhenya, Rebekah Sipe and so many others joining the effort. It feels a bit like the Muppet Movie, come to think of it. And so I can’t think of a better way to close than this:

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