Sunlight Labs, a group dedicated to government transparency. After months of public beta testing, the newly finished application is now a comprehensive toolset that helps you stay on top of congressional activity, voting records, new bills and laws, and more. It even provides one-touch access to your Congressional representatives, allowing to you to call their office directly from within the application, watch their YouTube videos or read their latest updates on the microblogging social network, Twitter.A mobile application which connects Android phone owners to their representatives in the U.S. Congress has just been released by the non-profit, non-partisan organization
Different from the iPhone Version
The Android application is similar in some ways to its iPhone counterpart, Real Time Congress, released at the beginning of the year. Like the the Apple version, the Android app makes it easy to see what's happening inside Congress in a timely fashion.
iPhone app, the Android version offers a greater focus on your representatives and their activity. This is something which iPhone users already had access to, explained Sunlight Lab's Clay Johnson back in January: there are "at least a half-dozen" third party applications for iPhone that do the same, he said . But in the Android Marketplace, there's only the one: Congress.However, unlike the
Congress: App Details
From the app's main screen, Android users can enter in their location, either by tapping into the phone's GPS or by manually entering a State or zip code. Search functions for finding a particular representative or committee are also present and, at the top, there are sections for tracking votes and nominations.
Each representative has an easy-to-use profile page where their office's phone number is prominently featured. Here, you're also one tap away from voting records, sponsored bills, committee details, news articles, Twitter updates and YouTube videos, assuming your rep participates on social media. The rep's own webpage is also linked by way of an icon found next to their profile picture.
Government in Your Pocket
For mainstream users who don't try software in beta (aka "we're still testing it") format, Congress for Android may be their first peek into the power of mobile combined with the power of open data, specifically open governmental data. The application was built using the Sunlight Congress API and GovTrack.us, the former a tool to programmatically access basic information on members of Congress, and the latter a civic project for tracking Congressional activity.
Like all Sunlight projects, Congress is open source software, meaning other developers can view and reuse the code, stored here on Github.
Since the app's launch into public beta late last year, over 250,000 Android owners have downloaded it. Now that the app has officially and publicly launched, that number is sure to rise.
In the future, the app will be updated to support real-time notifications and other "exciting features," says Sunlight Labs. Those interested in downloading the app can do so now from the Android Market: just search for "Congress."