Imran Khan's victory in the recently concluded general elections in Pakistan could very well be because of a phone app. Yep! A phone app and a database of more than 50 million voters were key weapons in the successful campaign of cricket legend. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was very secretive about this as they feared that the rivals could copy it, but some party workers showed Reuters how the app worked wonders for their campaign.
The phone app proved helped them in getting supporters to the polls when the government's own telephone information service that gave out polling place locations suffered major problems on election day, which affected the other parties, but not PTI as they set up teams in constituencies across the nation with a population of more than 208 million to mine the database, identifying voters by household, zeroing-in on "confirmed" PTI voters, tagging them on the app, and ensuring they turned out on election day.
The app, which is called Constituency Management System (CMS) was developed by a small tech team. In fact, Khan sent out a video via WhatsApp urging PTI candidates to use CMS just days before the elections. "I have seen and experienced how it works and I'm using it in all five constituencies I am contesting," Khan said in the video message, seen by Reuters. "The faster you apply this system, the easier your life will become," Khan added.
The early version of the system was not immediately embraced by PTI, they started using only after Asad Umar, a lawmaker who won his seat in Islamabad and will be Khan's new finance minister, and wealthy politician Jahangir Tareen Khan, who is Imran's close ally saw its potential.
Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan, chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, gives the victory sign during a press conference to present the party's manifesto for the forthcoming election, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, July 9, 2018. Khan is promising 10 million new jobs, better health and education facilities if he wins the July 25 vote. Titled "Road to New Pakistan," the manifesto is similar to other ambitious past pledges by political parties that ended up unable to make good on them. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Party workers said they used scanning software to digitise publicly-available electoral voter lists to create the database. However, CMS architects say the system's power was only partly utilised as there was not enough time to train workers across the country and some politicians resisted using it.