The Congressional Roku App – Senate Edition!
Back in August, we released three roku apps, one for each branch of government. The apps included streaming video for the White House and the House of Representatives, as well as streaming audio for the Supreme Court (no cameras allowed in there). This week, we’ve released an update to the Congressional Roku app to include two new major features: video from the Senate floor (courtesy of Floor.Senate.gov) and text search.
When we originally released the Congressional Roku app, the House had launched their new platform, HouseLive.gov, which streams video from the House floor. But there wasn’t a video stream from the Senate floor that we could use. We put in a placeholder for the Senate, hoping they’d release something similar in the future. This January, the Senate followed suit with Floor.Senate.gov, allowing us to add Senate video into the app.
There are some differences between the two chambers. On the House side, we use the floor updates provided by the Clerk of the House, to organize the long videos into sensible segments. We routinely collect these floor updates and store them in Sunlight’s Real Time Congress API, which drives the Roku app and the Congress android app. The Senate, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything comparable to the House’s floor updates. So instead, we split the video into five minute segments and attempt to parse out legislator names and bill numbers and titles from the captions in each segment, to create descriptions of each clip. However, this doesn’t work in all cases, so you will see clips without descriptions.
The other big addition is text search! Admittedly, text search on the Roku is a bit clunky, but absent any kind of metadata for the video, the search provides a better way to find relevant content. Both video descriptions and video captions are searched, with priority being given to the video description. The search results also make it clear which one is the source of the match, in addition to searching both chambers.
If you’ve already got the app on your Roku, you should see the new version update automatically. If you want to get it on your Roku, you can install it here.