Forum One’s LegiStalker.org Wins "Apps for America" Award
Alexandria, Va. – April 21, 2009 – Forum One Communications, a web strategy and development firm, placed second out of 45 entries in Sunlight Lab’s annual Apps for America contest, a competition that aims to help make the U.S. Congress more accountable, interactive, and transparent.
LegiStalker.org, Forum One’s winning entry, enables U.S. citizens to get real-time information about their legislators’ activities on social web sites, in the news, and on the Capitol floor.
LegiStalker offers a citizen a personalized feed containing the online and offline activities of every Federal legislator. Updated every 30 seconds, the feed aggregates votes, floor statements, news mentions, Twitter posts, and YouTube videos posted by or about the legislator.
“We entered the contest because our company is committed to helping improve transparency and accountability in government,” said Forum One’s CEO Chris Wolz. “This was also a fun way for our team to challenge themselves and create something unique and useful in a very short amount of time. ”
Contest entries were scored by Sunlight Lab judges on multiple criteria including: the site’s usefulness to constituents for monitoring and communicating with their member of Congress, potential impact of ethical standards on Congress, programming code quality, originality, and potential usability. Sunlight awarded Forum One a $5,000 prize.
Forum One’s development team set out with the premise that any effort to build a more accountable government must begin with a citizenry that is engaged and continually informed. The entire company helped kick off the project and a smaller team built the site.
“We tapped into the collective intelligence of our employees by starting with a brainstorming session,” said Kurt Voelker, Forum One’s Chief Technology Officer. “Then, the project team narrowed the concept into a solution that matched the target audience’s needs.” The Legistalker team included Kurt Voelker, Chris von Spiegelfeld, Courtney Clark, Matt Gibbs, and Norman Bucknor.
The site uses data from Sunlight Foundation grantees and partners as well as other publicly-available sources including Twitter, YouTube and Google News. Users can search for U.S. legislators by either name or location and view any related live stream.
“We used eight separate data sources, so we’re pretty impressed with how we were able spin it into such a clear, easy-to-use interface,” Voelker said. “We wanted to make it easy for citizens to stay continually informed with simple, digestible information – rather than have to wade through mountains of charts and analysis or months and months of data.”
The web site was built using open source tools. The full source code has been released under the MIT Open Source License and is available for download.
Sunlight Labs is an open source development team inside the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to using the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency.
Forum One Communications is a web strategy and development firm based in Alexandria, Va. Since 1996, Forum One has helped hundreds of organizations use internet technology to solve the world’s most pressing problems. For more information, visit www.forumone.com.
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