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Identifying experts in keypad technology    

On Friday, I emailed NCDD’s main listserv to see who in the community has expertise in keypad technology.  Keypads are audience response devices that look like little calculators (learn more here), and once in a while I get requests from people looking for keypad facilitators or trainers.  David Campt and Chris Bui are two skilled keypad experts I know personally, but I wanted to have a longer list at the ready.

I received a variety of great responses and recommendations for experts in keypad technology - and in using cell phones as an alternative to keypads.  I thought I’d share the responses here so we all have access to this list for future reference.

Some Experts in Audience Response Technology…

David Campt,

Chris Bui, 5TH Medium I.C. (Interactive Communications)

John D. Godec, Godec, Randall & Associates Inc.

John wrote: “I have a partner, Theresa Gunn, with whom I do a lot of this kind of technology supported decision-support work – we’ve been using this technology for about 15 years and it’s exceptionally effective when sessions are facilitated well.  Thanks.”

Matthew Freeman

David Campt wrote:”One person who I know has a lot of skills with keypads is Matthew Freeman.” Matthew then wrote: “Audience response keypads are indeed a wonderful tool, if used well, for dialogue facilitation, deliberation, and group decision-making.  David Campt and I have written an IJP2 article about their use in dialogue: Talk Through the Hand: Using audience response keypads to augment the facilitation of small group dialogue. Thanks to David for mentioning me- I live & work in Richmond, VA and use keypads almost every week in my facilitation! Happy to talk to anyone who’s interested!

Padgett Communications

Bill McGowan wrote: “We’ve had great success with Padgett Communications. Contact would be Tim Alcott unless Tim can give you someone else.”  Padgett Communications can be found online at

Ron Thomas

Ron shared this about his work: “I have been using the technology since the early 90s as the planner, manager and facilitator for keypad supported technology and bring in the most appropriate hardware provider for the venue. Attached is our case study of the community based process using keypad in Kentucky where this historic corridor was planned, design, and constructed in 6 years with the community and state DOT that had been in court on the subject for 25 years. (Email Ron for a copy of this excellent report!) We also had an in-house system at NIPC during my directorship there. It’s a part of my current consulting practice including planning and directing three AmericaSpeaks scale forums in the last two years.”


Janet Fiero wrote: Please consider AmericaSpeaks when you are planning events where you want to use keypads.  A number of our staff and associates are trained on conducting keypad polling sessions.  In fact, I have 10 keypads on my desk and am determined to learn how to run them personally.  WE can also rent you the keypads if you can operate the system yourself. Please add us to your list as a source of keypad experts. Susanna Haas Lyons also mentioned that she runs keypads as part of the AmericaSpeaks team.  AmericaSpeaks website is

Turning Point

Recommended by Janet Fiero. Turning Technologies offers the TurningPoint audience response system.

Mike Smith at One Counts

Recommended by Janet Fiero.  Add a comment if you have a link for One Counts!  I couldn’t find it online.

In addition, Janet wrote: “There are a number of wonderful experiments and new methods being developed every day with everyday polling on the web and cell phone.  My only caveat about polling is that without meaningful deliberation the results of the polling are not as credible.  See Yankelovich’s classic:  Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World.”


Additional suggestions?  Please add a comment to this post!

Here's What 8 People Had To Say...

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  1. Comment added by Ariana McBride on April 12, 2010:

    We have had great success using keypad polling in partner communities, so much so, that we are now building capacity on staff to use this technology. We have worked with many firms with this capacity including PlaceMatters (who is also using cell phone voting to complement keypads) and a number of other planning firms who use this technology as part of community processes.

  2. Comment added by Ellis Westwood on April 12, 2010:

    At Ascentum, we have been using voting keypad technologies for the past two years and have found them extremely powerful tool to include in our in-person dialogue processes.

    They are just tools, though, and success really depends on how they are used to meet objectives. The facilitation and event design should use keypads strategically, at points where they add value and generate insightful data. Question design is crucial, as is deciding what data is displayed to participants once voting on a particular question has ended.

    So, in short, keypads are a great tool, but require the right process design to generate useful results.

  3. Comment added by Sandy Heierbacher on April 12, 2010:

    Jim Snider of sent in this interesting comment…

    Last month the Associated Press published an article, Are Universities Clicking Their Way To A Better Education?, about the use of keypads in a university setting. It was picked up by dozens of media outlets and is in the current issue of Education Week. My youngest child, now a ninth grader, has been using clickers in class since seventh grade. My two oldest children, both in college, also have used clickers in their science courses. This is a case of same technology, different use. But it does suggest how the next generation will take this type of technology for granted. It also suggests that your local public school or college may not only have many underutilized clickers but also experts in their use.

    -Jim Snider

    P.S. I hope to introduce clickers to record parents’ votes at a countywide school advisory committee, where I am the vice chair. The advisory committee meets regularly and is made up of representatives from the 120 public schools in the school district. My primary motive in introducing this technology would be to enhance the anonymity of the parents’ votes, which are now often taken by hand. For a recent article of mine, see Deterring Fake Public Participation, published in the International Journal of Public Participation.

  4. Comment added by Chris Haller on April 12, 2010:

    I’d add Ken Snyder at PlaceMatters ( to the list. They’ve been using keypads for a long time, typically around land use planning issues but also in a variety of other contexts to educate the public about trade-offs and gather feedback on tough choices. They are also developing a new tool called AnyWare polling that allows them to do sessions in multiple places at the same time and technology to allow the audience to deliberate about and then submit their own choices before voting on them. Very cool stuff.

    During my time at Public Agenda and now at my new company Urban Interactive Studio we’ve used cell phones to interact with and collect feedback from audiences. We actually offer a hosted service called TextTheMob ( that allows you to easily set up your own message boards and multiple choice questions for cell phones free of charge. In our experience, using cell phones is obviously cheaper but comes with its own set of challenges, like people not knowing how to text or generally longer response times. So while it’s not a necessarily a replacement for keypad polling, I see plenty of other use cases for more simple feedback loops and audience interaction where cell phones make perfect sense.

  5. Comment added by Josh Chernila on April 12, 2010:

    We use keypads for all of our larger engagements here at AmericaSpeaks. We tend to work with the guys over at fantastic.

  6. Comment added by Sandy Heierbacher on April 12, 2010:

    Lars Hasselblad Torres added this comment to the post on facebook:

    [About the use of mobile phones rather than keypads]

    There’s quite a growing practice; here are a few resources I’d check out:
    - MobileActive (
    - Poll Everywhere (
    - MobiOde

    And there’s huge opportunity for the SmartPhone community through apps (iPhone and Android alone are a sizable and fast-growing share)…

  7. Comment added by Sandy Heierbacher on April 12, 2010:

    Brand new NCDD member Walt Roberts sent this to me today:

    I am one of those keypad polling experts you were inquiring about. I am in the same league as Chris Bui who I have worked with and consider a friend. Chris uses “Optionfinder” and has a very well defined process / approach. I use a custom developed polling system called “Possibility” (I was on the development team).

    My keypad polling process / approach is highly flexible and extraordinarily purpose and intention driven. The following link will take you to a page on my web site that describes my services. From there you can click on the link that will take you to a description of the keypad poling system and services.

  8. Comment added by Carolyn Caywood on April 15, 2010:

    The Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement has used them successfully.
    The first time, I thought the technology interfered with the nuances of what breakout groups reported, but this year the use was more focused and worked quite well. Be wary of reducing complex issues to multiple choice just to use the keypads. But for prioritizing where everyone has agreed to the definitions, they work well.

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