How did it all begin?

mySociety began life when a small group of coders got together to discuss a shared interest. They wanted to explore the potential of the internet to give everyone easier access to the political process.

That was way back in 1996. Since then, we’ve been rather busy, growing into a fully-fledged international organisation along the way.

These days, we put out annual reports so you can see what we’ve been up to: here’s the Year In Review for 2014, for 2015, for 2016 for 2017, for 2018, for 2019, for 2020, for 2021 and for 2022. For 2023 we created a special 20th anniversary impact report covering our entire history – a much richer version of what you see below.

But if you’d just like the essentials, read on.

Here’s how it happened:

  1. 1996

    1. A small group of developers and interested people get together and form UKCOD (UK Citizens Online Democracy). This politically neutral group plan to explore the democratic potential of the internet. Could the internet help the public to discover, discuss and participate directly in politics? Could the public be empowered to make changes in society and to the political process itself?
  2. 1999

    1. UKCOD falls dormant
  3. 2003

    1. UKCOD is revived by a new generation of trustees and volunteers, many of whom have previously worked together on independent online democratic projects such as and FaxYourMP
    2. In an OpenDemocracy article, James Crabtree suggests that the UK government should set up a civic hacking fund.
    3. Tom Steinberg takes the idea, gave it a polish, and UKCOD sets up the mySociety project. mySociety recruits many of its core people from groups who are already hacking on projects that fit the vision.

      mySociety is born

  4. 2004

    1. We gain the grant that enables work to commence on FaxYourRepresentative (the first iteration of what would become WriteToThem) and PledgeBank
    2. TheyWorkForYou launches – though not as a mySociety project

  5. 2005

    1. WriteToThem launches

      Now people can email their elected representatives – even if they don’t know who they are

    2. General election

    3. We launch Pledgebank

      Its strapline is “I’ll do this, but only if you’ll help”. Pre-dating Groupon, Pledgebank is founded on a similar principle of collaborative action

    4. HearFromYourMP launches

      It’s a simple website that tells MPs that their constituents want to hear from them, then lets them send regular messages.

  6. 2006

    1. We launch HassleMe, a piece of code which will bug you at slightly irregular intervals

    2. TheyWorkForYou is adopted and becomes an official mySociety project

    3. Chris Lightfoot comes up with first maps for the project that will eventually become Mapumental

    4. We win two New Statesman New Media awards

    5. We run a call for suggestions: what should our next project be? We announce the winning idea in September: a website for submitting Freedom of Information requests
    6. The No 10 Petitions website goes live – a major commission for the software that handles all petitions to Downing Street

    7. We chair an event in Parliament for the discussion of whether, and how, TheyWorkForYou changes MPs’ behaviour

  7. 2007

    1. Chris Lightfoot passes away
    2. FixMyStreet launches

      Only at this point, it is called Neighbourhood Fix-It; it’s the UK’s first nationwide street problem reporting website

    3. We realise that Neighbourhood Fix-It is a silly name – no-one can ever remember where the hyphen goes, for starters. Also, the FixMyStreet domain name becomes available – so we rename it.
  8. 2008

    1. Our Freedom of Information site,

      WhatDoTheyKnow launches

    2. mySociety celebrates its 5th birthday

      with a party and some thoughts

    3. We launch ReportEmptyHomes

    4. Our first iPhone app for FixMyStreet goes live

  9. 2009

    1. We campaign against MPs being able to hide their expenses

      Our campaign is successful

    2. We launch ScenicOrNot, a game that will help us gather data for Mapumental’s ‘scenicness’ layer

    3. Mapumental launches, but access is by invitation only as it’s in private Beta

    4. Angie Martin passes away

    5. mySociety starts to collaborate with similar groups in Central and Eastern Europe: we offer help to other organisations with a Call for Proposals
  10. 2010

    1. FixMyStreet is implemented in Norway, using our open source code

    2. General election: mySociety volunteers build Democracy Club to present information on every single candidate
    3. We open MapIt, our point-to-boundary mapping service, to public use

    4. Brief Encounters launches, as a data-gathering project for our planned launch of FixMyTransport

    5. We begin to crowdsource transport companies’ email addresses, also in preparation for FixMyTransport

    6. A site in New Zealand launches, using our open source WhatDoTheyKnow software
  11. 2011

    1. Barnet council uses mySociety’s Pledgebank software to organise residents’ Royal Wedding street parties

    2. We add future business to TheyWorkForYou, so you can see what is upcoming in Parliament as well as what’s already happened

    3. Tobias Escher publishes research on the users and reach of TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem

    4. We announce the mySociety International initiative

      Originally called DIY mySociety, its first offering is the Alaveteli platform

    5. Several groups around the world use our Alavateli platform to launch Right To Know sites in the EU, Kosovo, and Brazil.
    6. FixMyTransport launches

      The aim is to encourage people to come together and campaign against public transport irritations

    7. We repurpose ReportEmptyHomes to create the Empty Homes Spotter app, to accompany a Channel 4 programme
    8. A FixMyStreet site is launched for Sweden, using our open source code
  12. 2012

    1. WhatDoTheyKnow processes its 100,000th request and FixMyStreet sends its 200,000th report

    2. Mzalendo relaunches

      With our help, the Kenyan parliamentary monitoring website has complete new functionality

    3. One of the WhatDoTheyKnow volunteers gives evidence to a Justice Select Committee about Freedom of Information

    4. FixMyStreet gets a spiffy new design, thanks to Supercool design agency

    5. mySociety developer Dave goes to Cebu to help the set-up of FixMyBarangay

    6. We host a conference for people using the Alaveteli platform

    7. Groups in Spain, Hungary, Uruguay, Australia, and the Czech Republic use the Alaveteli platform to launch their own Right To Know sites
    8. FixMyStreet for Councils is launched. It’s a fully-integrated service for council websites

    9. MapIt Global goes live, helping developers map points to boundaries, anywhere in the world

    10. We launch Mapumental Property, designed to showcase Mapumental’s extraordinary capabilities

    11. mySociety announces its new Components and Platforms strategy
    12. A Bosnian Right To Know site uses our Alaveteli software
    13. Odekro, the Ghanaian parliamentary monitoring site, launches, using Pombola.

    14. A FixMyStreet for Ireland is launched, based on our open source code
  13. 2013

    1. We receive Bafta and Emmy nominations for our Great British Property Scandal project

    2. ShineYourEye, the Nigerian parliamentary monitoring site, launches, using Pombola.

    3. Zurich City Council purchase their own version of FixMyStreet – Züri Wie Neu

    4. We win a Broadcast Digital Award for the Great British Property Scandal site and app

    5. 10th Birthday!

      No-one quite knows the relevant date, but we throw a birthday party anyway

    6. Poplus is founded

      A collaborative project between mySociety and Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile

    7. Brighton and Hove become the first council to use our FOI for Councils system (now FOI Works)
    8. Several international groups pick up our open source software and launch their own sites. Alaveteli powers new Right To Know sites in Canada, Israel, Tunisia and Romania; in Zimbabwe, Parliamentary Monitoring site Kuvakazim uses our Pombola software; and in Malaysia and Australia sites launch based on our FixMyStreet platform.
    9. The National Democratic Institute honours Tom Steinberg as a Civic Innovator

  14. 2014

    1. SayIt launches

      A new system for the online publication of transcripts

    2. Our partners in South Africa launch the People’s Assembly website, underpinned by our Pombola and SayIt software

    3. WhatDoTheyKnow processes its 200,000th report

    4. Parliament releases our strategic review of their digital services

    5. We run the PoplusCon conference in Santiago, Chile, together with Ciudadano Inteligente

    6. After a gap of a few years, we release WriteToThem responsiveness figures

    7. TheyWorkForYou is ten years old. In celebration, we run some of its interesting crowd-sourced data.

    8. TheyWorkForYou now contains data on every vote since the last general election.

    9. In advance of the Scottish referendum, we take a look at what difference Scottish MPs have made to votes.

    10. Just in time for Party Conference season, we use SayIt to publish the ‘lost’ Tory speeches.

    11. We launch Collideoscope, a reworking of the FixMyStreet platform, designed to capture cycle incident and near-miss data.

    12. Release of the research we commissioned on the impact of online FOI technology, the first conducted in this field.

    13. More research, this time on the impact of our UK sites.

  15. 2015

    1. In the light of a boost to our funding for challenging core targets, we make the practical decision to refine our offerings, and close down some of our less vital projects.

    2. The 250,000th Freedom of Information request is processed by WhatDoTheyKnow.

    3. Tom Steinberg announces that he’ll be stepping down from his position as Director of mySociety.

    4. FixMyStreet research finds that when one problem is fixed, citizens go on to report more.

    5. Time to release 2014’s MP responsiveness figures

    6. TICTeC

      We run the world’s first Impact of Civic Technology conference, with attendees from all over the world

    7. YourNextMP, revived for the General Election, provides candidate data that underlies scores of online voter tools, including Google.

    8. We hold the 2nd international FOI conference, AlaveteliCon, in Madrid.

    9. We announce our new CEO

      Mark Cridge takes over the spot that Tom Steinberg vacated

    10. We launch EveryPolitician, an ambitious attempt to store and share data on every politician in the world.

    11. Using EveryPolitician data, our new game Gender Balance hopes to provide definitive data on the number of women in parliaments around the globe.

    12. EveryPolitician contains data for 200 countries: that’s *nearly* all of them…

    13. The government sets up a commission to look into imposing restrictions on FOI. We respond and campaign hard against the threat.

    14. FixMyStreet and TheyWorkForYou feature in a flagship exhibition on data at Somerset House in London.

  16. 2016

    1. YourNextRepresentative is put to use for elections in Costa Rica, as TusRepresentantesLocales.

    2. iLab, our partners in Liberia, launch Infolib, an FOI site running on our Alaveteli platform.

    3. Success! The government announce that there will be no major changes to FOI law, and the commission nod to WhatDoTheyKnow as leading the way for best practice.

    4. With Médecins Sans Frontiers we redevelop the Patents Opposition Database, providing resources to help people challenge medicine patents.

    5. We run the second TICTeC conference, in Barcelona.

    6. The country votes for Brexit. Suddenly, everyone’s visiting our sites.

    7. Six new trustees join our board.

    8. Alaveteli Professional is announced

      Our new toolset will revolutionise the way journalists use FOI.

    9. It’s the 250th anniversary of Freedom of Information

      We celebrate with words from journalists, Finnish guests and a big Twitterstorm.

  17. 2017

    1. A new ‘write to your politicians’ project goes live in Iran.

    2. It’s the tenth birthday of FixMyStreet!

    3. We relaunch a slicker, smoother MapIt.

    4. The third TICTeC conference takes place in Florence, Italy.

    5. We begin collaboration with Facebook, showing users in many countries how to follow their representatives after an election.

    6. FixMyStreet sends its millionth report off to a council.

    7. A new direction for EveryPolitician, as we work together with Wikidata

    8. The first TICTeC outside Europe: the astonishing TICTeC@Taipei

    9. WhatDoTheyKnow Pro launches

      After months of development and beta testing we’re ready to go live.

  18. 2018

    1. WhatDoTheyKnow turns ten

      Unseasonable snowfall scuppers our planned party, but we still manage to celebrate the anniversary online.

    2. Launch of Keep It In The Community: based on FixMyStreet, the site aims to map and create discussion around Assets of Community Value across England.

    3. How do you know when you’ve hit the mainstream? When a BBC drama creates a mock-up of one of your websites to lend credible background to the story, that’s when!

    4. WhatDoTheyKnow processes its 500,000th FOI request… smack bang on International Right To Know Day — now that’s good timing!

    5. FOI Works makes life easier for those receiving information requests, thanks to its Automated Suggestion Pool.

    6. We affiliate with the global Civic Tech network, Code for All.

    7. TICTeC goes local, with our first ever conference focusing on the intersection between Civic Tech and Local Government.

  19. 2019

    1. TICTeC is five

      The fifth Impacts of Civic Technology conference takes place in Paris.

    2. We release a research report on FOI in local government and another on better request handling.

    3. The EveryPolitician project is placed on hold.

    4. We have a few changes in the trustees line-up.

    5. FixMyBlock

      With Tower Blocks UK, we look into ways to help residents excercise their housing rights.

    6. We meet in Oslo with FOI practitioners and journalists from around the world, for the third AlaveteliCon.

  20. 2020

    1. A new priority

      We add a stream to our practice: Climate.
      And to kick the work off, we build and maintain the website for the UK’s first national Climate Assembly.

    2. The sixth Impacts of Civic Technology conference was due to be held in Reykjavik Iceland, but because of the COVID-19 lockdown, pivots into an online event instead.

    3. Our name changes from UKCOD to mySociety, with commercial activities under SocietyWorks.

    4. Longtime mySociety Chair James Cronin steps down, and is replaced by Catherine Brown.

    5. In collaboration with Tower Blocks UK we launch the FixMyBlock project.

    6. Supporting council climate action

      It’s hard to see the countrywide picture so we make CAPE, a site that helps citizens and council officers explore and compare councils’ climate action plans.

    7. With our commitment to the climate it’s important that we measure and offset our own emissions.

  21. 2021

    1. WasteWorks launches

      A new citizen-friendly online waste management service for councils joins the SocietyWorks product suite.

    2. Repowering democracy

      In a series of three blog posts, Mark Cridge sets the new direction for mySociety.

    3. We add loads more features to CAPE, the Climate Action Plan Explorer, backed up with some nifty research.

    4. TICTeC opens the Labs

      We launch a new series of discussions and working groups, designed to bring tangible solutions to the civic tech sector.

  22. 2022

    1. Climate Action Plan Scorecards

      Climate Emergency UK launch their Council Climate Plans Scorecards, with our technical help.

    2. The news breaks that Mark Cridge will be leaving his role as Chief Executive of mySociety and SocietyWorks.

    3. Following Mark’s departure, mySociety and SocietyWorks are placed into the very capable hands of Louise Crow and Angela Dixon, who step up into their respective roles as Interim Chief Executive and Managing Director.

    4. Because it’s important, we commit to keeping all our in-person events as online ones, too.

    5. A grand milestone: more than a million public requests have been made through Alaveteli sites across the world.

    6. The first tangible TICTeC Labs outputs start to appear: these are the projects commissioned at the end of a process of group discussion and a focused working group for each of six topics.

    7. It’s official:

      Louise Crow and Angela Dixon’s roles as Chief Executive of mySociety and Managing Director of SocietyWorks are made permanent rather than interim.

    8. mySociety win Outstanding Contribution to Democratic Change in the first ever Democracy Awards.

  23. 2023

    1. It’s our 20th anniversary

      We are using this milestone to look back on what we’ve achieved, but more importantly to set our direction for the next couple of decades.

    2. We add the Senedd to TheyWorkForYou.
      With this bilingual addition, we now cover all the law-making parliaments of the UK.

    3. …and FixMyStreet’s now in Welsh, too.
      It’s a lovely collaboration with Mapio Cymru.

    4. mySociety anniversary awards

      We celebrate our 20th by recognising those who have achieved great things with our services.

  24. 2024

    1. We launch the Local Intelligence Hub

      Data to inform climate action: in partnership with The Climate Coalition and supported by Green Alliance.