As we previously reported in December 2008, the Apps for America contest was created to encourage the development of open source applications that help constituents monitor and communicate with their members of Congress. Contest entries have to use at least one of the required APIs, which included the Sunlight Labs API , OpenSecrets.org API, FollowTheMoney.org API, and Capitol Words API.
Top prize winners, which were selected from among 40+ entrants of the Apps for America, were announced on April 20, 2009 on the blog of the Sunlight Foundation, the contest sponsor:
- Filibusted tracks the frequency at which senators try to stall legislation through filibustering. Specifically, the site displays the "obstruction rate" for each senator, the percentage of time a senator votes against cloture motions, which limit the time allowed for a debate (1st prize). More at our Filibusted profile.
- Legistalker displays "the latest online activity of Congress Members", including mentions in the news and activity in the legislator's Twitter feed and YouTube channel" (2nd prize). More at our Legistalker profile.
- Hello Congress lets "every Senator and Representative [get] their own site where their staff can request research, search [its] briefing room of over 2000 documents and talking points, and track the priorities of their constituents in one simple dashboard" (3rd prize). .
- Know Thy Congressman is "a bookmarklet that displays an abundance of political and biographical information about current members of the Senate and House of Representatives." (3rd prize)
- Yeas & Nays "is a [Firefox] plug-in that allows you to call up your Congressional Representative from any webpage and record your conversation online. Your conversation is then available as an Mp3 for others to listen to and follow your lead and speak up about issues that concern them." [description from the blog of ShiftSpace] (3rd prize)
- e-PaperTrail "bring[s] you a clean presentation of the most relevant information", including "votes on the latest legislation and the words of your representatives from the floors of the House and the Senate" [according to the contest entry page for e-PaperTrail] (3rd prize)
In addition, 10 honorable mentions were awarded. In addition to visiting each of the contest entries to learn more, I recommend ReadWriteWeb's coverage (Sunlight Foundation Funds Six "Apps for America," which includes a nice screencast tour of the winners.)
A lot of excellent and instructive work is represented by the Apps for America entries. In fact, as a way of diving into the arena of government data and services, we will return in future posts to study how various contest entries employ APIs to accomplish their goals. (Our study will be helped greatly by the fact that they are all open source projects.)
For a larger context for the Apps for America contest, take a look at our Government Mashup and API dashboard.