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Parties get personal with new IT systems

Lindsay Clark
Labour's eight-year reign in government has seen a revolution in the technology used in political campaigning.

In the run-up to the 5 May general election, Labour and the Conservatives are using the Mosaic database from Experian to more accurately target their campaign messages to critical voters.

The latest database from Mosaic allows parties to analyse information on individual households, rather than at postcode level, and to match the data to names on the electoral register. This will allow local party offices in marginal seats to use PCs to target voters with specific messages.

Although Mosaic has been around for 30 years, processing this level of data on the desktop would have been impossible in previous elections.

Rob Haslingden, head of marketing at Experian Business Strat- egies division, said when Labour came to power in 1997 household-level analysis would have taken five days and required a mainframe.

In 1997 a typical PC had a 166MHz processor with 32Mbytes of Ram and a 2Gbyte hard drive. Now a typical business desktop has a 3.8GHz processor, 4Gbytes of Ram and 250Gbyte hard drive.

"We have taken voter analysis down to the individual house-holds and teased out the differences between them," Haslingden said.

What impact technology will have on the delivery of party promises is not clear.

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