Rousseau ecosystem
Rousseau is a platform for participatory democracy and active citizenship
Rousseau is a platform for participatory democracy and active citizenship

Rousseau has its roots in a revolutionary idea conceived by Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio: creating a movement of citizens who have in Internet an instrument of active participation through which put the individual, his history and his skills at the centre of political action. From this point of view, Internet was and remains the medium through which a real digital direct democracy can be achieved.

Early as 2012, on Beppe Grillo's blog, was released a first voting function thanks to which the members of the 5 Star MoVement selected their candidates for the 2013 general elections. In the same year, members of the Blog had the opportunity to vote for the first time in history for the name of the future President of the Republic.

In 2015, the need to have not only a voting platform, but a real operating ecosystem in which citizens could grow online led to the adoption of a first version of the Rousseau platform.

They were released the first functionalities that aimed to enable citizens to actively contribute to the legislative process. At the same time the Voting area was improved and it was created a network of lawyers dedicated to the legal protection of members.

In 2016 Gianroberto and Davide Casaleggio decided to push this project in an even more inclusive direction, giving a name to this ecosystem and creating an association with the goal of promoting and enhancing this ecosystem with the ultimate aim of not limiting citizens' participation to the virtual, but influencing physical reality through the web: thus the Rousseau Project and the Association of the same name were born. When Gianroberto has left us in April 2016, Davide Casaleggio decided to continue the project, being joined since 2018 by the other two members Enrica Sabatini and Pietro Dettori.

In these years Rousseau has seen several improvements, being appreciated for its support function to the activities of the 5 Stars MoVement and has dozens of functions on the digital platform and many training, information and participation projects and initiatives such as the Rousseau Villages, the Open Day Rousseau, the School or all the activities that aims to organize and maintain the community of citizens that every day touch Rousseau's great commitment to building an inclusive environment capable of maintaining and promoting the technological, social, legal, educational and administrative infrastructure of the 5 Stars MoVement.

The Rousseau technology
What tools Rousseau uses to innovate politics
What tools Rousseau uses to innovate politics

The Rousseau ecosystem today is made up of several components that together contribute to providing essential services to activists and elect of the 5 Star Movement.

The center of this ecosystem is the Rousseau platform, that offers to the 5 Star Movement various functionalities for the development of direct democracy. The current platform was completely rewritten in 2019 using the most modern technologies and following the highest standards in terms of system security, reliability and scalability. Today the platform is based on a highly performing and secure infrastructure, served in the cloud through AWS. Each component of this infrastructure is completely atomic and independent thanks to a Docker-based container system, and is fully scalable thanks to the Kubernetes open source orchestration system.

All the technologies used to develop the platform are innovative, efficient and widely used by various leaders in the IT sector. The authentication management is entrusted to the open source software Keycloak, used, among others, by the British Government and Subway. The backend services have been developed with the Ruby on Rails framework, used, for example, by Netflix and AirBnB. The frontend, on the other hand, is developed partly in Vue.js, the second most used web framework in the world, and partly in Nuxt.js, derived from the first, but more suitable for server side rendering. Finally, the communication between backend and frontend takes place through the innovative GraphQl system, developed by Facebook.

In rewriting the entire Rousseau platform, great attention was paid to the security of the entire system, to proper data management and to all the highest standards in terms of privacy and user protection. From these points of view, it is important to underline that the most sensitive function of the system, the Voting Area, has been redesigned taking into account all the European indications and standards for e-voting in terms of voting secrecy, reliability of the system and verifiability of entitled persons. The right to vote is obtained only after the actual correspondence between the user and the person has been verified through a process called Know Your Customer used by banks and various institutions for customer certification. Furthermore, the database has been designed so that it is not possible in any way to trace the preference expressed by the individual voter. To certify the safety and reliability of the system, tests and checks are periodically carried out by companies specializing in IT security.

The platform is constantly evolving thanks to the contribution of the members who can participate in periodic appointments for the co-design of new features in dozens of events such as Level Up and the stages of the tour La base incontra Rousseau (literally: The base meets Rousseau).

Starting from 31 December 2020, the web platform is supported by a mobile app developed in crowdsourcing and available in open source (source) called Rousseau X. The app is available for free on the Android and iOS stores and is an important tool in the hands of the citizens.

Rousseau X was developed from the beginning in the name of open innovation and transparency, as in the Rousseau style, through the collaboration of several programmers and designers of the Rousseau Open Engineering project and was perfected, during a beta testing phase, thanks to the contribution and feedback of thousands of activists who were able to preview it. It was written with the innovative Flutter framework created by Google and connects to the backend through the same GraphQl API used by the platform. Rousseau X allows users to exercise their voting rights directly from a smartphone. Furthermore, subscribers have the opportunity to get information by searching and reading the news of il Blog delle Stelle every day in Instant Article mode. They can find out about all the events and initiatives organized on the Portale Eventi Rousseau and they can also view their activist profile and explore profiles of other activists and elect close to them.

The Blog delle Stelle (literally: Blog of the Stars) and the Portale Eventi (literally: Events Portal) are two other important tools of the Rousseau ecosystem. Both were developed from the Wordpress open source platform and have an important communicative function within the 5 Star Movement. The first represents the official communication channel of the 5 Star Movement and the Rousseau Association, while the second is a portal that contains and makes available to citizens all the initiatives, events, and training meetings organized.

Finally, the Tirendiconto platform is a portal dedicated to transparency by the elect of the 5 Star Movement towards citizens and the Portale Talenti (literally: Talents Portal) offers the possibility to apply for job positions for the Movement itself.

The functions available on the Rousseau platform
The functions available on the Rousseau platform