Novel way for parties to target key voters

POLITICAL parties have a novel way of tailoring their message to the specific needs of local communities with free access to an online mapping portal containing specific information on demographics and socioeconomic indicators.

The All Island Research Observatory (AIRO) at NUI Maynooth has decided to provide candidates and political parties with free access to their information portal which maps population demographics, socioeconomic indexes, housing and transport; statistics.

The portal has been developed by two NUI Maynooth research institutes — the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) and the National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG).

Director of NIRSA at NUI Maynooth Professor Rob Kitchin said: “At the political party level election strategists may be under time pressure to get their canvassing teams organised and mobilised and the AIRO system will allow them to easily break up their constituency and devise a campaign plan based on up-to-date socioeconomic data and demographics.”

He added: “This allows, for the first time, evidence-based decision making when it comes to formulating strategy. From an immediate canvassing point of view it may allow candidates and their teams on the canvas trail to focus more on certain messaging based on the most accurate data for that area, whether it is messaging around employment, housing or transport.”

Dublin city councillor Cieran Perry, who is running as an independent candidate in Dublin Central, said he hoped the system would have more than just an impact on planning canvassing.

“If you’re active on the ground in a constituency you tend to have a good idea of where the problems of social deprivation are most severe; however, this portal might not only allow the larger parties to see where issues are, but may bring home to them the harsh reality of the economic downturn for communities.”

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