Foaad Khosmood, a Cal Poly computer science professor who is the senior research fellow on Digital Democracy, said he was excited to work on the project because it promotes innovation in government. Justin Rovin, a 26-year-old computer science graduate student, said the project helps citizens hold their elected officials accountable even as the number of statehouse reporters has declined.
For advocates with limited resources like Jim Roberts, founder of Family Care Network, a nonprofit that assists foster children along California's central coast, the platform could mean staying engaged without driving for hours just to attend a committee hearing.
With more funding, Blakeslee and his team hope additional tools can be added. For example, Digital Democracy has the potential to track how people feel about a contentious bill or identify what topics lawmakers are most passionate about using speech patterns.