2020 is unlikely to be a year that we forgot in a hurry. The effects of the corona pandemic were a major challenge for the POLYAS team. But it quickly became clear: Co-determination cannot be put on hold, and the need for digital democracy has never been greater.
In March 2020 the time had come for POLYAS: The entire team withdrew to their home offices. This was not an entirely new situation for many POLYAS employees, as many of them worked from home on a regular basis. However, digitally organizing the entire company with chats and video conferences was a new challenge even for POLYAS. Team meetings or a new edition of the User forums had to be put on hold for the time being. But since the digital infrastructure was already in place, the team quickly adjusted to the new situation.
Self Service greatly expanded
The corona pandemic also had another effect: There was a sharp rise in demand for online voting. POLYAS reacted to this in a number of ways. First of all we set up a regular digital course for Online Voting Managers, which explains the functions of the tool and gives clients the chance to pose their questions. The different teams, from development to sales and marketing, have taken on new personnel over the course of the year.
Furthermore, a completely new team was formed: The Support team, which deals exclusively with incoming customer inquiries. The Self-Service option—i.e. the independent setup of online and live voting— was consistently pursued throughout the year. That’s why POLYAS established a new Support Center that features user guides and video tutorials to explain how to setup an online election or live voting.
See for yourself and get an impression of the POLYAS Online Voting Manager. Create an online voting now!
Three POLYAS products in 2020
The new POLYAS Live Voting, which we started developing in January, has been available in Self Service since October 2020. Live Voting allows digital voting and elections at events to be carried out online—whether they are conducted on site or strictly digitally. We can now even represent groups of voters and ballot weighting during live voting—features that were requested by numerous customers.
And POLYAS was able to bring another new product to the market: the Nomination Platform. This new tool allows candidate selection to take place completely online; nominations are submitted digitally. The Nomination Platform has also been available in Self Service since the end of the year. The establishment of these two new products has made the Online Voting Manager into more of a platform.
Furthermore, numerous new features are available with the POLYAS Online Voting Manager. Some of the most important ones are listed here:
- Connection of UniWahl to the Online Voting Manager: Universities that have previously used UniWahl for their ballot boxes can now easily transfer their data to the Online Voting Manager.
- Sworn statement feature: This feature solves the need of many customers to verify the identity of eligible voters.
- Users of the Self Service can now automatically generate invoices in the Online Voting Manager.
Banks, municipalities and churches are voting online
Along with a large number of new Self-Service users, POLYAS was also able to win several well-known customers this year, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Cooperatives—including a large number of banks—held around 120 online representative assemblies with POLYAS in 2020. And the Stahnsdorf municipality was the first municipality in Germany to conduct an online public survey with POLYAS.
The Archdiocese of Freiburg elected its parish councils online in spring with 1.6 million eligible voters, and was thus able to prevent a collapse in voter turnout that was feared due to the corona pandemic. GEMA, which has been voting with POLYAS since 2017, implemented its general meeting in September fully digitally—with the help of our new Live Voting. For the GI (Gesellschaft für Informatik), which has been voting online with POLYAS for many years already, there was no need for POLYAS to be on-site for the count as in previous years; instead it was held purely online. And the Dutch pilot company VNV (Vereniging Nederlandse Verkeersvliegers) has now entered into a framework agreement after two years of individual support from POLYAS.
Relocation and cohesion
And another task had to be managed from the home office: The POLYAS team in Berlin moved from the Mitte district to Friedrichshain in June 2020. POLYAS used small task forces to organize the move to the new office. The new premises offer plenty of space for the growing POLYAS team and, when the corona pandemic is over, customer events can be held in Berlin.
Perhaps the best news for the end of the year: Despite all the changes and the heavy workload, the POLYAS team held together and met all of the challenges. And change is on the way: In retrospect, 2020 could turn out to have been the year that established digital democracy.