During a public meeting, groups of citizens at tables record aspects of their dialogue and preferences on laptops that are wirelessly connected. A set of Java apps has been created to coordinate this communication and help organise the data for manual sorting and editing by back-room volunteers in real-time. There are also apps for participant voting. Results are stored for display front-of-house and for inclusion in reports.
This system has been created as a loose set of Java apps and utilities which have been used and extended over several years.
For an upcoming public engagement gig 27/28 May 2011 in South Australia, the developer is unavailable to configure and run the system, which is heavily based on Java.
Your job will be to take about two weeks to learn this system, configure it for the event (including networking hired laptops), and launch the apps following an agenda in real-time during the event. There should be little programming involved, as all the pieces are there. It's mainly about configuring it, running it, and fixing it if it goes pear-shaped.
The project is managed by an expert facilitator of public engagement processes, who is an academic and consultant in this area. She has guided the development of this system from the start. You will also be assisted by an associate (who has written this brief) who is a software specialist who understands the engagement process and online systems, but who is not an expert with Java. This is the main reason for requesting your help.
(I'm not sure about the server platform, I'll update this brief when I know).
The event is publicly-funded and supported by the Government, which will receive its deliberated recommendations. Unlike public meetings where citizens heckle each other or merely provide a stage for pontificating experts and politicians, deliberative forums like this facilitated gig are increasingly demonstrated to bring the best out of citizens with a diversity of policy views, and find common ground in solutions that satisfy most individual and community needs.
I'll be upfront: there isn't a lot of money in this. If you are interested in applying your skills to an ethically-sound and rewarding task, and meet some interesting people, then this is the gig for you. You need to get yourself to Adelaide for it. The preparation may be done in Perth or Melbourne, where we each live. Shared accommodation can be provided, as well as some reimbursement for travel.
Please bid on a stipend that will cover you to do this work. We'll talk more about what you need later, of course, so you can be comfortable with the task and arrangements.
So this project is an adventure. Yes, it will be messy. We'll bumble through it together and make it work.
The server essentially serves the web pages to each of the laptop clients. The web page content and UI are written using Flex, an Adobe product. There is a SQL server (which currently resides within the same single server, though this ideally either would replicate to the redundant server or sit separately ensuring data integrity). The high level server side software is written in Java.
The intention is to take the existing implementation and create either a UI or XML scripts to configure the conference. Currently there are no such files and as a result the conference coordinator would need to have express knowledge of the Java code as well as the implications of designing the conference or making any inpromptu changes.
The logistics of the conference in terms of what is displayed are for example a participant poll being taken where the results of this poll are reported via MS PowerPoint slides to the participants. Alternatively, the participants detail in text some information and this information is then summarised and once again relayed back to the participants (again using MS PowerPoint). There are a significant number of permutations for how the participant screens appear and what information is sourced, adding to the general complexity of the Java server side code.