Could Kiwi code play a role in Crimea?

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 13:04 11/03/2014

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Ukrainian-speaking and Russians-speaking communities in the Ukraine may use software developed by Wellington co-operative Loomio to help pick up the pieces in the shattered country.

Loomio's open-source software lets people put forward proposals that can be discussed, modified, voted on and vetoed through an online forum.  

Its 11,000 users include the Wellington City Council and healthcare provider Pathways.

Co-operative member Alanna Krause said the co-op had received requests from both Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking communities in the Ukraine to translate its cloud-based software into their languages, after civil unrest and the actions of armed men creating division in the country.

Loomio hoped to finish translating the tool into Russian and Ukrainian within weeks, Krause said.

It was not unusual for it to receive inquiries from overseas after major social changes, she said.

"Every time there is a democracy movement in the world we end up getting contacted by people in those movements," Krause said.

"That happened last year when there were big student movements in Hungary, and in South America.

"Tools like Twitter can help you spark a riot, but Loomio can help you sew society back up afterwards.

"A democracy movement in Greece, where there is also a lot of political unrest, has started Loomio groups for every town and region in the country to rethink civil democracy."

The co-operative, which has 12 fulltime staff and is based at the Enspiral "social impact hub" in Allen St, was born out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It today kicked off a campaign through crowdfunding platform CrowdtiltOpen to raise at least US$100,000 (NZ$118,000) for a new version of its software that would support access from mobile devices such as smartphones.

If the campaign raised US$250,000, Loomio could qualify for a 40 per cent matching grant from government agency Callaghan Innovation that would also let it support SMS so its software could be used where there was no broadband coverage, Krause said.

"The world needs a better way to make decisions together. We're feeling more urgency than ever to get Loomio out into the world."

People who contributed more than $25 to its crowdfunding campaign would get early access to its new software and those that paid at least $2500 would be entitled to consulting packages at special rates, Krause said.

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- The Dominion Post

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