Government Minister Impressed by Voice Your View technology
The Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts MP has praised instant feedback technology demonstrated by Lancaster University as “one of the most innovative projects” he encountered during presentations at the House of Commons.
The Minister was among an audience of MPs, peers and businesspeople at a “Science in the New Parliament” exhibition hosted by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology in collaboration with Research Councils UK.
Dr Will Simm from the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University, which is leading the research, gave a demonstration of Voice Your View technology.
The technology is being developed by scientists from the Research Councils UK Digital Economy Programme and allows people to express their views either through public terminals or software on mobile phones. It allows users to track their comments as well as processing responses to create an instant summary of local issues to help organisations respond to local concerns.
Mr Willetts said Voice Your View demonstrated “an incredibly fresh way” of enabling the public to register their views, whether on local policing, public safety, or ways to improve the environment.
He said: “What we’ve got is a relentless pursuit of the better use of information, things that are more citizen friendly, harnessing the wisdom out there of many local people with local knowledge and intelligence, and doing it in a way which is transparent.”
He said the way in which Voice Your View could lead to improvements in the quality of the environment was just as vital as capital investment.
There was also enthusiasm about the project from organisations including the Environment Agency, which is interested in evaluating comments about water quality, and construction group Costain.
Dr Simm said: “It was a very positive meeting and it was great to meet the people who make the decisions. I felt we got recognition for what we’re doing and there was a lot of interest in vYv, with many people keen to run a trial with their organisation.”
Voice Your View allows a large number of comments to be accessed quickly by filtering and classifying comments using an artificial intelligence technique called natural language processing.
Two trials of Voice Your View have already taken place, - one with 600 users in Lancaster and another in Northern Ireland earlier this year. A large scale trial is currently taking place on Coventry University campus, with a second trial planned for 2011.