Thanks to Icelandic resident James Robb for contributing this guest piece.
Shortly after I moved to Iceland, my good friend and former colleague, Helgi Gunnarsson, who is now an MP for the Pirate Party of Iceland, approached me with an idea to build a piece of petition software. At the time there were a few issues moving through the parliament that had garnered a sizeable amount of controversy. The president of Iceland had also recently stated that if a petition or issue could get enough signatures, he would attempt to intervene on behalf of the public. With this in mind, we set out to build a tool that would streamline the collection of signatures opposing parliamentary actions.
Safety Valve (ventill.is) is an open source project I have created with the Pirate Party of Iceland to help citizens of any country have a more active voice regarding their respective parliaments and parliamentarians. We chose the name because of what the president had said about stepping in on a highly controversial issue. Initially we hoped our software would function as a political safety valve for when things were getting messy. The project currently allows Icelandic citizens to sign petitions either for or against every single bill, motion, or issue coming through their parliament. For example, this is a petition regarding a bill that relates to guaranteed basic income.