Google has rolled out its latest election tools in India in a new elections hub called Politics & Elections, where it also displays the latest news on the Internet from the political sphere.
Sandeep Menon, Director Marketing at Google India, made the announcement in a blog post on Wednesday, saying the India election hub is now live for anyone to visit.
To keep voters informed, the tools provided give access to the latest news, videos and also provide links to party resources, the election commission and links to NGOs like the Association for Democratic Reform and PRS Legislative Research.
Beyond information, the Google India 'Politics & Elections' hub is also being used for interaction between voters and candidates - the videos and hangouts page collects relevant YouTube videos from various news channels, and also has a schedule of hangouts planned, with various party leaders such as the Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh (on March 27), the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan (on March 29) and former Sports Minister Ajay Maken (on March 30) - the list currently goes on to April 8 and the page states that more will be added over time.
Another interesting feature is the Pledge to Vote map, where users can share messages on why they want to vote. There are circles on this interactive map of India, and when you click on one, you can see the messages other users left behind.
In his post, Menon also notes that this is the first time Google has created a "Google Score" tool, to reflect search activity against a person's name in the last 24 hours across both Google Search and YouTube. The company will be displaying the five politicians with the highest Google score from the previous day, every day on the Trends page in the Election hub. This way, not only can visitors quickly see which politicians were most searched for, but can also get a quick insight into how trends have been shifting. The same page also has infographics on search trends, such as most searched for Chief Ministers and regional parties.
Given that the majority of the population still doesn't have a computer from where they can participate in this process, there's an interesting move from Google to also give audio access to people over the phone. People can call 08800484848 to listen in on Hangouts (both live and after they are over). The call is automatically cut, and you get a call with the audio.
The initiative deserves praise for gathering a large amount of information around the elections in one place, even if cynics would see it as an attempt to get people to use Hangouts and Google+. Funnily enough though, Google's first proposal on the subject to the Election Commission of India was one of the few things that the Congress and the BJP agreed on, with both parties being unwilling to support the idea, asreported earlier.