Google’s Australian Election Site

Google are saying that the new Google Australian Federal Election site is a first for them; actually creating a page that centralises links to lots of information about a forthcoming event, rather than just aggregating other news data as they do with pages such as their News Australia site. The site integrates neatly with the various YouTube sites created by all the parties and includes gadgets such as ‘News from your seat’ that you can add to your Google home page.

I’ve blogged about some of this stuff before but, with all the political parties now using YouTube as a vehicle for policy information and announcements, I’m continually surprised that the politics teachers at school aren’t banging my door down saying that we’ve got to stop blocking YouTube! But so far, so quiet.

Google say about their new site:

Staying informed about Australian politics is easy thanks to a new webpage and tools launched by Google today. For the first time Australian voters can have an intimate look at parties, candidates and election issues at one location, 24 hours a day.The site is a world-first for Google and was developed here in Australia. Google Australia’s Federal election site is at http://www.google.com.au/election2007.

Launched in Google’s Sydney offices with the help of Federal Minister Joe Hockey and Federal Labor’s environment spokesperson Peter Garrett, the site contains a number of innovative online tools, developed by Google’s Australian engineers.

Google Australia’s Head of Engineering, Alan Noble, said the site showed how the internet could play a substantive role in providing information and encouraging debate.

“New technologies allow a conversation with voters which has never been possible before.” Noble said. “The internet is deepening political debate and engagement. This site is the convergence of democracy and the Internet. It enables Australian voters to research detailed political information and share their views whenever they want.”

The page contains the following features:

Google Maps and Google Earth
Google’s site features special Federal Election information viewable in Google Maps that will give users information about electorate boundaries, sitting members, candidates and margins.
Using Google Maps’ easy-to-use interface, users will be able to zoom and pan, and see satellite imagery and road maps of all 150 Federal seats.

Electorate boundaries and seat names will also be visible in a layer in Google Earth.

“We continue to believe that Google Maps and Google Earth can serve as the ultimate tools for organising and sharing geo-based information,” Google’s Head of Engineering Alan Noble said.

YouTube channels

All six political parties that are represented in Federal Parliament (Australian Democrats, Family First, Greens, Labor, Liberal and Nationals) have established their own dedicated YouTube channels.

Google’s site contains links to these channels and a “gadget” that enables users to watch the parties’ latest videos on their iGoogle homepage.

Google Australia has also established its own election channel on YouTube, entitled “Australia Votes”, which will feature election content and be a forum for discussing Australian politics and the election. It is located at http://www.youtube.com/australiavotes.

Innovative election gadgets

Google has developed four exciting gadgets that will make a wealth of Australian political information just a click away:

  • The Australian MPs ‘On the Record’ gadget allows users to research all 226 Federal MPs’ past statements on any given political issue, by searching Hansard and their personal web pages.
  • The Google News gadget enables users to search Google News for the latest Australian political news, by Federal seat.
  • The Google Trends gadget allows users to use Google’s experimental Trends feature to compare the Australian search and news volume of political issues, parties or candidates.
  • The YouTube gadget enables users to view the parties’ latest YouTube videos from their iGoogle homepage.

The full Google press release is here

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