"When we were planning our coverage for the 2014 elections we knew we wanted to do something very special that would take our election mapping in 2011 to the next level," says product development manager at 24.com, Cathryn Reece. "When we looked at what was done digitally in the last US elections (by far the most digitally focused election ever) we realised there weren't many examples of stand-alone native election applications in the market. We saw this as a huge challenge."
The 24.com development team has succeeded in showing how complicated information can be shared easily, simply and stylishly without compromising beautiful design and ease of use to accommodate the size of a phone's screen.
The result is an interactive and accurate look at previous results across a variety of fascinating data points - and is a dramatic upgrade of the map that was created in 2009 and 2011 to show the unfolding results of previous elections.
The product and development team worked closely with the IEC in structuring the data for the suite of maps. "We worked hard at building a collaborative relationship with the IEC's digital team to guarantee an invaluable flow of information to build up accurate maps of municipalities and provinces for each election year. Working with these shape files has seen several months of trial and error to produce the best possible experience per platform," says Reece.
To make the IEC data work for them News24 had to build their own database that was able to process the complicated information stemming from multi-party elections and allow them to populate the maps accurately. This has allowed them to construct never-before-seen maps like the Voting Shifts
map, this map shows how the support for the ruling party has ebbed and flowed over the last 20 years.
The Previous Results
map is available in the Elections24 app on Android and iOS and the full suite of maps are available on News24's web and mobile platforms.
In the coming weeks, all five map types should be active across the News24 main platforms: Past Results Voting Shifts, Party info and Voter Turnout. The most exciting product, the Live Results Map, will be activated shortly after polls close on Election Day.
"There has been a revolution in the communication around elections," says Jannie Momberg, editor-in-chief of News24. "From electioneering to results reporting, the landscape has changed to a digital one. South African political parties, media houses and publishers can no longer ignore how important the digital landscape will be in this election."
News24 was at the forefront of the coverage of the 2011 local elections and received a massive 100% and 150% increase in web and mobile web traffic consecutively on Election Day in 2011. Momberg says it also felt it needed to up its' game this year to reflect the astounding digital coverage seen in the 2012 US elections. "This is one of the reasons why we developed an iOS and Android election app and why we have dedicated web and mobile web platforms. On top of this, the interactive maps will ultimately form the backbone of our coverage," he concludes.
24.com is a leading African network of popular digital publishing brands and online services across internet, mobile, applications, e-commerce and interactive TV. Centered on News24, 24.com is dedicated to creating and sustaining uniquely African online and mobile communities. As South Africa's largest digital publishing house, the network welcomes over 6 million local Unique Browsers monthly.