As a former Capitol Hill Communications Director, I can tell you that access to real-time information on what is happening on the Hill can make or break a successful advocacy campaign. Information is power, and the Sunlight Labs new Real Time Congress App for the iPhone gives users access to instantaneous in-the-know information in the palm of your hand. By pulling together RSS and XML feeds from the party policy committees, leadership offices, news outlets, bill texts and the alphabet soup of analysts (Think CBO, OMB, CRS et al.), the coders at the Labs have created a rich and valuable user experience for anyone who is interested in what is happening in Congress.
Forgive my enthusiasm for this new app, but it really is something special and elegant. Forget the fact that the platform will be expanded and new data sources will be added and the app will be expanded. I know that I am channeling my inner Don Draper here when I say that this new app brings me home again, and by home, I mean the Longworth House Office Building.
The Real Time Congress application for iPhone will keep journalists, Hill staffers, bloggers and interested citizens up to date on what is happening in Congress, in real-time. Its ease of use and sleek design promise that end users will continue to go back to the app for unfiltered information on Congress so they can make their own informed decisions on what is happening in the Capitol.
Our goal at the Sunlight Foundation is to change the way that citizens collect information about their government, and then help them to use that information to change the way they interact with their government. This new app shows how powerful new programs and smart phones can accomplish that goal. I’m just a little jealous of my former colleagues on the hill—I kind of wish I had this when I was working over there.
We’re pretty proud of the app and it’s free to you as the user. It is worth noting, however, that it wasn’t free for us to create. It did take weeks of development, and so any contribution toward this application and all the others we hope to create in the future on your behalf is greatly appreciated.