By William Duguid
It was a bright July evening when the National Yes Registry Roadshow, in the person of the indefatigable Jason Baird, rolled into Perth to demonstrate IndyApp.
For the small band of Common Weal Perth & Kinross and Yes Perth City supporters who were present, the abiding memory of the evening was Jason’s energy and enthusiasm, lifting the discussion beyond dry tech-speak into something that outlined real campaigning possibilities. It was a bright spot in what was, let’s face it, a fairly flat summer.
So what’s IndyApp all about? Well, it’s a free-of-charge networking tool that you can download from nationalyesregistry.scot to run on any Android or iOS device. As the name suggests, it’s been designed specifically with the Yes movement in mind, after consultation with a pilot group of pro-indy organisations from all over Scotland. Its aim is to help to bring together all the campaigning experience, creativity and organisational talent that’s been out there since 2014, and make it easy for new supporters to become involved.
The app’s been up and running since September 2016, and is growing steadily. At the last count, 131 Indy groups across Scotland had set up their ‘Front Door’ on it, containing all the information needed for individuals to contact them, discover what they’re up to and get involved. No need to search through social media, seek out a street stall or send off an e-mail to what you hope is the right address; the gang’s all here.
What if you’re a technophobe, fazed by new-fangled stuff on your phone? Nae bother; IndyApp’s a stress-free experience. Once you’ve installed it, to find a local Yes group all you need to do is type in the first half of your postcode and hit ‘Go’. The app will display the groups geographically closest to you, and a click on any of them will take you to its Front Door. There you’ll find a group profile page, venue with google map, meeting times, an opportunity to donate (if you wish) and details of any coming events or campaigns.
Most importantly, you’ll see a Contact/Join button, enabling you to become a member of the local group. Once you’ve joined you’ll be able to send direct messages to your fellow group members – individually, as a selection or all at once. Once again, there’s no need to keep up with e-mail addresses.
That’s individuals within local groups in touch with one another. What about the groups themselves? They’re connected via designated Editors in each group, who can also exchange messages with each other. It’s Group Editors who also ensure their group’s information is kept up to date, so it’s wise for each group to appoint two or, ideally, three editors and share the role.
Those IndyApp connections, on their own, represent a pretty significant grass-root communications breakthrough compared to 2014. But they’re just the beginning. The next round of development, already planned and currently being crowd-funded, is where the real fireworks will come.
On the agenda for IndyApp 2.0 are Local and National Forums. In a group’s Local Forum members will be able to post and comment on campaigning ideas and whatever else is going on, keeping everyone in the group informed and thinking about its next move, even between meetings and events. The National Forum, visible to everyone but with designated members of each group posting on its behalf, will do the same on a grander scale, helping to spark national campaigns from successful local initiatives or popular ideas.
Also planned are Resource Buttons, allowing each group to list its local resources: membership skill sets, equipment, suppliers, venues, media contacts and the like. For its local membership, this will encourage and simplify self-starting campaign ideas. Nationally, each group will be able, if it wishes, to share local resources, either as an alternative source of supply for other groups or to be available for national campaigns.
Taking these two ideas a step further, there’ll be national Committee Rooms, where representatives of each group will be able to get together to develop ideas proposed in the forums or elsewhere. They’ll have several other practical applications, too: perhaps organising mass orders of merchandise, so as to achieve economies of scale; or distributing the future equivalent of Wings Over Scotland’s ‘Wee Blue Book’; or setting up national tours for speakers, musicians or film screenings. Endless possibilities!
These features, and a few others that remain under wraps for now, give IndyApp the potential to be a real game-changer in Indyref2. At its heart is local autonomy, with each local group free to select and adapt whichever ideas or strategies it feels are best suited to it, with little or no dependence on a centralised ‘Yes HQ’ that might turn out to be another pinch point as the heat of the campaign builds up again.
Of course, as with any tool, it’ll be only as effective as we make it. To realise its potential we need to ensure that as many Yes supporters as possible sign up for it, start to engage with it and fully understand what it can do. Jason Baird is still touring round, putting in appearances at The National Roadshow in Perth, the Build2 SIC Conference at the Usher Hall and various local venues. But it’s not a job solely for him; we all need to spread the word and get people excited about what IndyApp can do.
And, most importantly of all, we need to ensure the project is funded.
Building in the features planned for IndyApp 2.0 will cost a total of £24,000. Half of this sum has already been privately pledged by pro-indy business people as “match funding”, which means that, in order to release it, the rest of us need to raise £12,000. If we can achieve that, the new features will be in place within four months – in good time for a September 2018 referendum, if that’s when it happens.
To raise the £12,000, Jason and his National Yes Registry colleagues have started a crowd-funding page at https://chuffed.org/project/nyr-indyapp. But time is short: the window closes on 6 December, and there’s still some way to go.
I’m sure that, whenever the referendum’s called, we all want to give ourselves the best possible chance of winning it. Used effectively, with all its planned features in place, IndyApp will take us a long way towards that goal.
Please do take a look at the IndyApp crowd-funding page, and donate whatever you can.