Microsoft just unveiled a crowd-sourced engagement platform called Microsoft Town Hall. The project, a Windows Azure-hosted toolkit, is designed for use by politicians interested in building online communities where constituents can vote on issues, voice their opinions, identify problems, ask questions, and offer solutions.
The platform offers familiar “vote up” or “vote down” buttons for identifying the most critical issues and pushing them to the top, allowing politicians to see what the most important issues are.
The code available today can be used to build a community website but in the near future, TownHall clients will be released that run on the iPhone, iPad, Google Android and Windows 7 Phone devices. There will also be a Facebook client that will integrate with Facebook Fan pages as an embeddable widget and a SharePoint web part for B2B and enterprise use.
Because TownHall is hosted on Azure, those licensing the technology will only have to pay for the bandwidth they use. They won’t need to worry about scaling up if traffic begins to spike – Azure handles that for you, automatically.