Citizens deserve a better ECI software

The signature collection for an ECI is strictly regulated. For instance, the signatures collected online have to be stored encrypted and the fields to be displayed are different for each of the 28 EU countries.

There is only one software that satisfies these requirements: the OCS software that was developed by the European Commission. Unfortunately, the Commission focused on the needs of the member states and they don't have experience running online campaigns. The software makes it much harder than it should be to sign an ECI and because of that less use it which makes it harder for ECI campaigners to collect a million signatures. Because the Commission doesn't have any competition, the pace of improvement has been glacial.

Every existing ECI has experienced problems with the OCS and has suggested improvements that have been ignored. To be popular and successful as an effective democratic tool, we need a new OpenECI signature collection, one that puts citizen and campaigner needs first.

Features comparison

Feature

OCS (legacy)

OpenECI

Steps needed to sign

4

1

Easy to embed in campaign site

Easy to collect emails before the signature

Allow the user to promote to his social networks after signature

Channel/Partners management

API to consult statistical data

Easy to export/decrypt signatures

Human friendly error management

Smartphone and tablet friendly

Pre-select country based on the IP address

Pre-select the language based on the IP address

Vintage 90s look and feel


Less steps to sign

The longer and more complicated forms are, the more users are going to drop and leave before finishing.

Signing on the legacy OCS has the following steps:

Signing with the new ECI:

A single form. Before the first fields are the summary of the ECI and options to read more.
The first field is the country, based on the selection the form adjusts (eg. It hides the ID field for Germany...)

Easy to embed in campaign site

The legacy OCS doesn't visually work when trying to embed (iframe) it into the campaign, the new one will allow to work as an embeded form

Stylesheet per ECI or channel to adjust background color, font...

Easy to collect emails before the signature

Ideally, collecting information for the campaign (eg. email for sending news) and for the signature (address, date of birth...) are done in the same form. It won't legally be possible, the next best option is to collect them as two steps of the same process.

The first step (data for campaign) can ask the same information (first and last name) of the second step (data for ECI). The user won't have to enter them twice as they will be pre-filled.

Allow the user to promote to his social networks after signature

One key to a successful campaign is supporters promoting it to their friends/family/collegues (viral marketing).

Each campaign has different strategies for the promotion (social network like/tweet/G+), option to send emails to friends, subscribe to a newsletter, donate... These call to action work best as an extra step after a successful signature and is part of the campaign website.

We are going to skip the “boring” confirmation step and directly redirect the user to a page on the campaigning website.

If not legally possible or if the campaign doesn't have a thank you page tailored, we will have an intermediate “thank you page” with a clear button to continue to the campaigner call to actions page.

Channel/Partners management

an ECI has a single point to sign, but multiple campaign sites or channels that bring in visitors. For each of these, we want to count the number of visitors and signatures and redirect them to specific “thank you” pages so they can be encouraged to promote the campaign.

API to consult statistical data

An easy way to extract aggregated data to then display them on the campaign websites

Some of the statistics are limited to those having a token. Eg. by default, not everyone can read the statistics of signatures per channel

Easy to export/decrypt signatures

The legacy software generates a few hundred files that each contain a few thousand encrypted signatures, that you then need to decrypt using the client OCS software. The software crashes regularly and it takes days to finally obtain a few hundred files containing the decrypted signatures. There isn't any option to know how many signatures that have been decrypted to control the total.

The new software is going to only generate 28 files that can be decrypted in one step.

Human friendly error management

The legacy software generates an unclear message no matter the problem (server failure, user reloading a page, signature already existing...).

Smartphone and tablet friendly

Do I really need to explain this in 2014?

Pre-select country/language based on the IP address

If the country isn't pre-selected by the chanel, it will be based on the visitor IP address. If the country is mono-lingual (eg German in Austria and Germany, French in France...) it will be pre-selected too.

Obviously, the user can then modify these and sign the French version as a Belgian citizen even if they access the campaign from a UK IP address.

Vintage 90s look and feel

Do I really need to explain this in 2014?