As Egyptians head to the polls today to vote in the first Parliamentary elections, Google has stepped in to make elections in Egypt a touch more “2.0.”
After citizens surged back into Tahrir Square over the past week to protest the appointed prime minister and demand that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hand over power to a civilian government, many of the 50 million eligible voters in Egypt have turned out in record numbers today to cast their ballot in hopes of a democratic transition.
It should come as no surprise, after Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghonim rose as a popular hero during the revolution this winter, that Google is now working overtime to support information transparency during the Egyptian elections. A slew of new tools help voters assess candidates, find their poll location, and read the latest election developments:
First, the Google search engine in Egypt today features a doodle which cutely depicts each letter undergoing a stage of the election process. Beyond the doodle lies a news aggregator at google.com.eg/elections, which features breaking news about the candidates and elections, indexed by political party and issue.
To directly assist voters, Google has also created a voter information map that is implemented on Egypt’s official election website to help voters locate their constituency and voting location by entering their national number.
Not one to insist on closed platforms, Google also began offering a Google Election Center API in September, which provides information such as polling locations, candidates, and local elections officials to help developers build tools for voters.
To further disseminate information, Google has also created a YouTube channel called Sayyed Qarartak, which roughly translates to "you are the master of your decisions." The channel features videos of Parliamentary candidates, so that voters can assess their options in one centralized location.
The push to support the Egyptian people doesn’t end with the elections, either. g|egypt, Google’s three day conference designed to teach developers, entrepreneurs and educators about Google tools to assist their enterprises, will take place in Cairo on December 11-13.
Although the road to a fully democratic process in Egyptian may be slow and challenging, voters can take comfort today in the fact that Google has taken steps to enable information transparency and facilitate their making choices rather than having choices made for them.