With the help of the Democracy Fund, Fireside hopes to reshape how Capitol Hill interacts with its constituency.
Fireside’s CEO testified before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress to streamline the constituent communication process for the House of Representatives.
Fireside joined forces with OpenGov Foundation to develop Article One, a product that automatically transcribes constituent voicemails.
PoliScribe and Fireside have partnered together to bring innovative, time-saving technology to members of Congress.
Fireside has partnered with TourTrackr to bring a streamlined tour management process to Capitol Hill.
Fireside has teamed up with academic researchers to better understand constituent communication and how it can be used to further civic engagement.
In 2018, Fireside hypothesized that we could leverage machine learning and natural language processing to make predictions for new messages based on past methods of tagging, logging, and responding to letters. To help us explore this machine learning hypothesis in our CRM, the Democracy Fund gave Fireside a $100,000 grant. Machine learning is a widely-used commercial technology that automates certain tasks through past behavior, like product suggestions on Amazon and personalized playlists on Spotify. Despite its success in the retail marketplace, machine learning hasn’t yet meaningfully made its way onto Capitol Hill. With the Democracy Fund’s generous grant and our partnership with machine learning expert Joseph Nelson, we can now accelerate our efforts to bring the best in timesaving technology to hardworking Capitol Hill staffers.
On October 31, 2019, Fireside’s CEO, Josh Billigmeier, testified before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress at a hearing titled “Congress and the Frank: Bringing Congressional Mailing Standards into the 21st Century.” To simplify the mailing process, he recommended that Congress find an under 24-hour approval process for email content. Additionally, Josh proposed that congressional offices should bypass Franking Commission approval on issue updates to constituents who have previously contacted the office about that issue. At the beginning of 2020, the House Franking Commission adopted Josh’s suggestions to streamline the constituent communication process for the House of Representatives.
The travel ban during the spring of 2017 resulted in a record number of constituent calls flooding into House offices. We partnered with the OpenGov Foundation to submit a grant to fund the development of a cloud voice platform, so that offices could automatically transcribe constituent voicemails. This effort eventually emerged as the Article One product and was authorized by the CAO for deployment.
In 2019, we partnered with PoliScribe to tackle one of the biggest time-eaters for legislative correspondents: drafting letters to address every bill and issue. PoliScribe doubles staff efficiency by automatically drafting letters to constituents, including responses to inbound mail and proactive outreach. Fireside and Poliscribe share the mission to bring innovative technology solutions to members of Congress that enable you to work smarter, reach further, and discover more.
Congressional tours are one of the primary ways offices connect with constituents face-to-face; Fireside has partnered with TourTrackr to make the scheduling process simpler for all. TourTrackr’s streamlined interface allows you to easily track requests and send automated itineraries, which eliminates the headache of maintaining detailed spreadsheets. TourTrackr has made the tour management process a breeze and revolutionizes the way staffers schedule tours on Capitol Hill.
Researchers from Columbia University, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara have joined efforts with Fireside and several congressional offices to gain insight into trends regarding constituent communication. By using administrative data that represents wide swaths of communication across House offices, we can examine the demographics of the constituents with whom the House has had contact, the manner of contact, and the reason for contact. Using Fireside’s central, nationwide database, information of this nature and scope could be quite impactful to our understanding of the way constituent communication can be used to further civic engagement.