Field Metrics

Field remains a cornerstone of the modern campaign, yet teams continue to struggle with measuring the impact of their field strategy.

Field teams need better ways of drawing realtime, actionable insights about the success or failure of contacting and persuading voters in their district. Existing measures of success on a campaign are centered around doors knocked and calls made, but do not quantify or visualize the effect of these actions.

We are interested in supporting technologists working on discovering new measures of success, and on tools that result in instantaneous understanding of the direct outcomes of field team operations

Online Volunteer Communities

Volunteers often return for the community that can be found within the walls of a campaign office. Strong friendships have been built in working together for a shared belief, and friendly competition between volunteers on number of contacts made is sometimes hard-coded in rudimentary leaderboards.

Gamifying the volunteer experience may increase engagement, and having a portal where training materials and campaign information are easily accessible would benefit both the campaign and the volunteers. Currently, volunteers stay up to date with new campaign information through mass emails, phone calls, and occasionally Facebook groups. 

We would like to see mobile and web applications that centralize a campaign’s volunteer community and further research around features that would boost in-person engagement. Tools focusing on increasing the number of repeat shifts, by improving the volunteer experience, could have a significant force multiplier effect on campaign efficiency.

Volunteer Networks


A great field organizer remembers their volunteers and internalizes a map of their relationships. For example, if a husband and wife always canvass together, there is no need to call both in order to confirm they will be coming into the office. If a meet and greet needs a host, an organizer remembers who the most well-connected volunteers are within their network in order to maximize attendance. This information tends to be held in a free-form note in VAN or exists only with an organizer -- but it is the key to identifying the central people who can exert the most social pressure in mobilizing the community. 

We are interested in tools that streamline the mapping of volunteer relationships, helping organizers visualize their volunteer network and leverage it to its full potential.  

Canvas Optimization


 The process of cutting turf for a volunteer to canvass is, especially in the beginning stages of a field program, a fairly random operation. Turf-cutters eyeball areas that are dense but have not yet been walked, but little thought is given to which areas have the most potential for persuasion based on density, demographic information, etc. The question “If you could send only one canvas group out, where should you send it?” is not one that has a simple answer on a typical campaign. Rudimentary formulas in google sheets multiplying the number of people in a precinct with how much it has been already canvassed provide a simple priority order. When a volunteer is bilingual, the field organizer is expected to know where in the district would make the most sense to send them.

Tools that optimize the turf-cutting process to find the neighborhood that provides the best potential for persuasion in the district based on some set of criteria that takes into account both the volunteer resources at hand and the state of the campaign  would drastically multiply the effectiveness of canvassing operations.

Data Entry


The advent of mobile canvassing applications has reduced the time that a campaign spends on entering data from paper canvassing packets. However, many volunteers are still averse to using their phones or do not have access to a smartphone and thus still canvass on paper. Paper canvassing  made up around 30% of canvassing in the 2018 midterms (source? came from dnc slides).

The manual data entry that comes with a paper packet takes time, and during the crucial period of GOTV, is often dropped completely. A solution that works for all volunteers while minimizing data entry is still missing. Proposed ideas to cut down on data entry have included machine readable paper forms and OCR technologies. We are interested in new systems that would integrate seamlessly into existing tools such as VAN.