Why technology is the wind beneath AAP’s wings

In Delhi's most keenly watched contest, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder Arvind Kejriwal edged past Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in New Delhi assembly constituency, officials said.

While the AAP seemed to have taken the country by storm this year, there's a little bit of technology that puts wind beneath its wings. Be it the caps or the broom as its election symbol, the AAP has always been innovative with its PR and marketing strategies. It already has the usual social media arsenal with a Facebook page, group, Twitter handle and an Android app. Taking it a notch higher displaying its collaborative thinking and 'of the people, by the people, for the people' attitude, the AAP tied up with cloud telephony services provider VoiceTree.

Sandip Roy/ Firstpost

Sandip Roy/ Firstpost

What VoiceTree brought in was the capability that enabled any random citizen of India become a volunteer for the party at absolutely no cost. It came up with a solution where a volunteer can call up a toll free number. On calling, that call will be connected to a random number that is owned by a citizen of Delhi. Once connected, the volunteer can convince him or her to support the AAP too. After the call, that number will automatically go into a list of used numbers and will never get connected again.

This enabled the AAP to come out with an army of volunteers without much effort or cost. The volunteers too, even those who had time or financial constraints, could contribute effectively. There are no privacy issues here as the solution makes sure that the volunteer and the receiver of the call both cannot see information about each other.

According to statistics shared by The TechPanda,

- Aam Aadmi Party is using more than 100 calling channels. So at a given time, above 100 volunteers can simultaneously make the call to the citizens of Delhi.

- The campaign is live since November 20th and according to the data nearly 5,00,000 calls have been done in one week by more than 7,000 volunteers.

- Team VoiceTree expects this number to increase to nearly “60,000” calls a day, seeing the intensity of the campaign.

Another highlight of this campaign is that while a call receiver will be someone in Delhi, a volunteer can call from anywhere in the world. This has gotten many Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) also on the bandwagon.

In another instance, Kejriwal conducted a Google Hangout video session with Indians living in Singapore to promote the party’s Adopt a Constituency, in which NRIs could pick an area in Delhi and help the local campaign team reach a fund-raising goal of 1.4 million rupees, or $22,500. Kejriwal also held Google Hangout question-and-answer sessions with Indians in the United States, Britain, Australia, Belgium and Germany.

A blog on NY Times  explains how AAP milked the best of Facebook too. As Aam Aadmi members visited households in Delhi, they used smartphones to photograph the phone numbers and emails they acquired from Delhi residents who were undecided or voting for another party. Then these campaign volunteers posted the phone numbers onto the Facebook group.

From there, volunteers at phone banks in the United States and elsewhere aggregated these phone numbers into a large electronic database, focusing on the phone numbers of undecided voters. This database was then distributed through the party’s website, giving each overseas caller a list of names and phone numbers of people in Delhi.

“N.R.I. support has been very, very crucial,” said Ankit Lal, the head of information technology at AAP. “Such a successful planning and implementation for the campaign would not have been possible without N.R.I.’s. They have a different level of expertise.”

Pushing AAP from being an underdog to a game-changer, technology has definitely changed how political campaigns work.