Talk with Sam | http://www.talkwithsam.com
"Increasing Constituent Communication & Citizen Service Delivery"
"We need to connect citizens with each other to engage them more fully and directly in solving the problems that face us. We must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government, creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in Washington and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago."
- From Barack Obama's 2008 Campaign Platform on Technology
Talk with Sam (TWS) is an open source application, currently web-only, built to aide citizens to answer a question such as, "what bills are my elected officials, at the state level, working on right now and how can I give my input?"
A goal of TWS is to inform citizens of bills, then collect the voices of the many and provide the information to representatives who eventually vote on those bills. TWS has a goal to be a communication channel between citizens and governments. It is about increasing citizen attention while coordinating constituents together in the decision-making process with our representatives.
TWS, today, provides citizens the ability to see bills near them based on their location. It allows citizens to add comments around the bill. It provides them the ability to use social media to share the bill to their network(s). It provides a vote up / vote down ability and computes an approval rate based on votes. Through community development many more features, as listed below, can be added to improve end user experience.
TWS uses open data sets from Sunlight Labs Open States and the 2010 Census, to provide a location-based lookup of bills (open, passed,failed... in addition via subjects) in the citizen's area based on geolocation.
Local Impact - Providing the ability for a citizen to provide input to bills at a hyper-local level. TWS links Americans to their reps and the bills (eventually laws) that will govern their communities (right now states).
Sustainability - Yes, community development can drive growth and usage, increase the collective voices of constituents to lawmakers at local and state (hyper-local) levels. A goal is to gather citizen feddback such as bill view counts, approval rating and votes to add to the overall public voice around bills.
Focus on traditional disconnected populations - Can provide a impetus to use Internet for tradionally disconnected populations by providing them a voice in lawmaking from their homes/mobile. Their one voice is equal to that of anyone else online. Ie, a farmer in the midwest can now provide feedback on a bill in their state house and engage in the law-making process as they could have not as easily as before. A person in another state can track bills and get mobile alerts when a bill has reached committee or been sent to the Governor's office. Finally, it can be used as an educational tool, how a bill becomes law.
Future Open Source Plans:
- Better/Smoother UI Experience (Better JQuery, CSS, Look & Feel); Application flow (saving user location during session)
- Mobile Applications (JSON Format ready, add "&format=json")
- Adding Rep / Sponsors Information (leverage additional public data sets)
- Open ID Authentication system for adding tracker feature and other user functions
- Section 508 compliance (with smoother, simpler UI hopefully assists in getting to 508 compliant level) ... Translation services / multi-language support
- Stronger Voting / Commenting System (Filtering based on language / votes)
- Deep Analytics on Bills and Reps (MapReduce, Lucene/Solr, Unstructed Text Analytics) ... Analytics answering questions such as "Which lawmakers have brought forth the most bills dealing with crime that have passed in past 2 years?" etc
Thanks for the opportunity to share my application,