Apps

Voter wants to be Tinder for politics

Photo: Voter

Photo: Voter

Voter co-founder Hunter Scarborough shares the vision and mission behind his new venture.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Voter is tinder for politics. Find out which 2016 candidates support the same things you do, and have a track record to back it up.

What problem does Voter solve?

Uninformed voters don’t vote, or worse, they do. Bias is present in the news and other media (82% of Americans do not trust the news media according to Gallup Poll).

Time-consuming research is currently the only alternative. According to a study by The Associated Press, the average attention span in 2015 is 8 seconds, 1 second less than a goldfish. No one has the time or patience to do their own political research. Voter turnout is at record lows (The last national election saw the lowest voter turnout in 72 years). According to Pew, 57% of 18-to-29 year olds get political news from social networking apps and nowhere else.

The stage is primed to engage millennials and younger generations on their turf.

What’s the story behind starting Voter?

Voter was founded by myself (Hunter Scarborough) and Suneil (Sonny) Nyamathi. During the 2012 presidential race, I became frustrated by how difficult it was to find political news sources I could trust. The only solution appeared to be labor-intensive personal research. Working 12+ hour days, I didn’t have the time.

During a local election in Los Angeles last year, I decided I had had enough. I looked at the wealth of raw political data becoming available, and realized there could be a much faster and more accurate way to become informed. I created the first prototype that week, and not long after, teamed up with Sonny to begin development on what would become Voter.

Fast forward several months later, and we just launched Voter in the App Store on Independence Day. :)

What are its key features?

Simply answer a few questions to find which candidates support the same things you do, and have a track record to back it up. We’ve designed an experience that is fast, fun and engaging, while the real magic happens under the hood. Our proprietary matching algorithm does all the heavy lifting, weighing millions of data points to find the perfect candidates for you.

To ensure the highest level of accuracy, we hold politicians accountable to their actions, analyzing candidates’ voting records, public agenda, personal views, speeches and more. We present this information as a percentage, describing how closely your views align with each candidate.

We have incredible partners and resources to automate the aggregation of all this data, including: GovTrack.us, the Sunlight Foundation, Google’s Civic API, OpenSecrets and Project Votesmart.

Currently, the app will match you to the presidential hopefuls who support your views, as well as political parties. We are working to add more elections, and plan to start curating local elections in Los Angeles this fall.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Voter is free.

How can those interested connect with you?

Video

NIST releases open source mobile app test tool

AppVet (Image: NIST)

AppVet (Image: NIST)

There’s now an AppVet for that.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released an open source tool, AppVet, that makes it easier for agencies to test mobile applications security and reliability.

From the official press release:

The application manages app vetting workflow that involves submitting apps to testing tools—for virus-detection and reliability, for example—receiving reports and risk assessments from tools, and combining risk assessments from these tools into a single risk assessment. Human analysts from the organization review the reports and risk assessments and decide whether to approve or reject the app according the organization’s requirements.

AppVet does not do any testing itself, it manages third-party test programs. One advantage of AppVet is that it provides specifications, Applications Programming Interfaces, and requirements that facilitate easy integration with third-party test tools as well as clients, including app stores. For example, AppVet defines a simple API and requirements for submitting apps to, and receiving reports from, third-party test tools.

AppVet spawned from NIST’s work with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that focused on providing app assurance testing prior to military field use.

Procurement app hōrd gets an upgrade

hord

Northern Virginia-based development firm GovTribe recently released an upgrade to its federal procurement iPhone app hord.

We check in with its founders to get a progress update and plans for the future.

What was the inspiration for creating hōrd?

The team at GovTribe created hōrd because we think finding and winning government contracts should be neither complicated, expensive, nor cumbersome. We worked for many years at a large government contractor. It always seemed odd to us that the pursuit process was so inefficient. Bloated processes, expensive technology, hearsay…you name it. It all seemed a bit broken. We knew that if we could bring together multiple data sources and give our users real time insight into the activity of the government, much of the process could be improved. Also, we felt that it was time for this level of insight to be democratized. By building and pricing hōrd for the individual, cost or organizational dysfunction are no longer barriers to basic understanding.

What are its key features?

hōrd is an iPhone app that lets users follow (or hōrd) the real time procurement activity of the things they care about within the world of government contracting. For example, let’s say you have a favorite contracting officer. Add her to your hōrd and every time she posts, amends, cancels, or awards a project, you’ll know immediately. Or perhaps you have a key competitor you would like to track. By adding them to your hōrd, you’ll see when they win or protest contracts. Last but not least, hōrd provides this same capability for new projects. Add a specific project to your hōrd and it will tell you when amendments are posted, who gets the award, and key contact information. hōrd provides this level of tracking for agencies, offices, people, projects, vendors, and categories or work. hōrd is free to download and comes with a one-month free subscription. From there forward, it is $5 a month.

What does the new update offer?

Our latest release is version 2.3. In addition to providing the aforementioned capability for 130 federal agencies, we spent a lot of time responding to feedback on the user interface. We overhauled search to give more context and added key information to the details of a project. Also, we added simple tweaks like the ability to call a contracting officer directly from their activity feed. We think hōrd has come a long way since our beta release in January. There is still much to be done and thanks to our highly engaged customers, we have a pretty clear picture of where we are headed.

What have you learned developing hōrd?

The most important thing we have learned is that the problem we attempt to solve is more widespread than we expected. Our customers come from all sorts of professional backgrounds and give us interesting perspectives we never considered early on. For example, journalists like yourself who cover a specific company can track their awards in real time. Or government agency leaders who would rather check their phone than sit through a briefing on the status of an important program. We really enjoy learning about the innovative uses of hōrd and hope to continue doing so.

What’s next in the development queue?

We are currently working on building out hōrd beyond just the iPhone. One of the most frequent messages we get from our customers is the request to use hōrd via an iPad, browser, or Android device. We are hearing them loud and clear and steadily working toward platform expansion. Also, we are building more in-depth analytical reports, built on the same data that powers hōrd, to be distributed outside of the app.

Download hōrd on iTunes.

PublicStuff builds a civic network that connects government and citizens

PublicStuff

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Note: This is not a product promotion or endorsement. Learn how you can get featured.

Co-founder and CEO Lily Liu discusses her civic venture, PublicStuff.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

At PublicStuff we help local governments turn service requests and inquiries into tangible community improvements by connecting people directly to their city representatives from their laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

What problem does PublicStuff solve for government?

The widespread adoption of social media, coupled with recent initiatives that have opened up city data, is sparking a lot of citizen interest in city services. In response, there’s been a flurry of innovation to provide more engaging, effective ways to give residents better access to local government, however most cities are not set up to manage the resulting information flow. That’s where PublicStuff comes in. We solve this problem through a cost-effective, easy-to-use system that lets local governments manage and customize the ebb and flow of information and requests between a city and its citizens. Our customizable program allows governments to not only interact with their citizens, but truly manage the extensive amount of data they receive from inquiries and manage workflow.

What’s the story behind starting PublicStuff?

When I worked for the City of Long Beach, NY and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office I was inspired by the idea of bringing together governments and constituents and making citizens more civic minded.  However, I saw a lot of gaps in the back-end processes and knew there had to be more efficient ways to generate civic engagement. Those experiences, coupled with the motivating stories, companies and visions of the people I met through school and work, prompted me to create something that would meet everyone’s needs.

What are its key features?

We offer the most efficient, cost effective way for city officials to communicate with their citizens, and guarantee citizens’ requests go to the right city official. We pride ourselves on providing instant access to government with the ability to confirm you’ve been heard and to track the progress of your request.

Our Citizen Engagement Management Tools enable city representatives to view issues and resolution data by geographic boundaries, date ranges, residents and department to improve their digital communications outreach to residents. Our government facing CivicApps let officials create data flows on top of the PublicStuff app. Cities are then able to customize their platforms and distribute the most important information for their individual city, for example emergency weather alerts, holiday activities, animal shelter notifications and even updated information for sports teams.

We’re the only city-to-citizen solution that offers in-app translation. Through our One Voice service, citizens have the ability to submit requests and communicate with city officials in their preferred language, making city improvements accessible to all residents, regardless of language.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

For citizens, PublicStuff is free for all platforms.

For cities, our service is sold as a subscription and priced according to population. Smaller cities can get started for as low as $1000 per year, while larger cities can choose between a number of different editions which meet their needs and may include integrations with systems they already have in place.

How can those interested connect with you?

Cities looking to bring PublicStuff to their community can visit http://www.publicstuff.com/tour for information and a free demo. People across the country that want to communicate directly with their city representatives and have a stronger voice in community improvements can download the free app, and connect with PublicStuff on Twitter and Facebook.

Video

Open data vital for San Francisco’s Bike Share

bike share

Finally, a bike-sharing program is coming to San Francisco! What Europeans figured out years ago will be a reality in the Bay Area by this August. The plan is to put 700 bikes at 70 different stations in the City and throughout the Bay Area—where residents can quickly hop on a bicycle at one station, and drop it off at another. Appallicious is very excited about this new program, not only because we’re looking forward to hopping on these new bikes ourselves, but also in order for the program to be successful, the utilization of open data will be key. That’s why I’ll be joining sf.citi and the San Francisco Bike Coalition at Yammer on Wednesday, for a conversation about the launch of the new program and how open data and the tech community at large fits in.

Once the bike share program starts, it’s going to be extremely important to know where the heaviest demand for bikes are at certain times during the day, and certain days during the week. It’s safe to assume that on a Monday morning, you’re going to need more bikes in residential areas, and less in the Financial District, since commuters will be biking to work. But with any program like this, unexpected variables are bound to come up, and this is where open data will come in.

The bikes and bike stations will most certainly have a GPS component where the city will be able to track bikes in use, and the amount that have been checked in or out at each station. Companies like Appallicious will then be able to synthesize this data and not only help the City of San Francisco figure out where and when the heaviest demand for bikes is, but can also inform citizens through mobile applications how many bikes are available at a specific station at any given time. Just like the features on the SF Rec and Park App we developed allows you to find parks, playgrounds, dog parks, picnic tables, and more — we could also bring bicycle availability right into the app! It will be just like checking the availability of a ZipCar at a nearby parking garage.

Once this raw data is available to Appallicious, there are quite a few steps before it can be packaged and presented to bike riders in a way that will help them figure out bike availability, or to city leaders who need to know which stations need more bikes, and which ones need less. The idea of the public sector providing the private sector with information like this is nothing new. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive guaranteeing that GPS signals would be available at no charge to the world when sucha a system became operational, in the wake of a Korean Airlines flight that was shot down after accidentally flying into Russian airspace.

The Obama administration has continued to promote the idea of “sustainable innovation” that President Reagan helped start. The GPS directive from Reagan has created a $250 billion a year navigation industry. Think about GPS companies like Garmin or applications like Google Maps that rely on GPS—without Open GPS, these companies would have never have been created, and we’d still have stacks of paper maps from AAA stuffed in our glove compartments!

With this renewed push for open data, through President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, there is a chance for the United States to build a new, thriving and successful industry through information released to the public by city governments. As more and more information is released by cities all over the country and the world, companies are going to be able to step up and provide new technology that allow citizens to access and benefit from this information.

In San Francisco, open data advocates like Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor David Chiu have just passed new open data legislation that will allow companies like Appallicious to create apps and change the way in which cities and governments are able to operate for years to come.

The possibilities are endless, and I am extremely excited to see how innovators and entrepreneurs find revolutionary ways of using this data to make bike sharing easier in San Francisco. Wouldn’t it be cool to integrate the bike-sharing program into the SF Rec and Park App? You could reserve a bike with your app and then take it for a tour of Golden Gate Park or see all the incredible art available throughout the city using the app. The open data movement has the potential to create a thriving, sustainable industry that can create millions of jobs, and a symbiotic relationship between the private and public sectors that could make both more effective, efficient, and profitable.

San Francisco makes open data city policy

SF Mayor Ed Lee introduced open data legislation on October 15 that would create a chief data officer and promote the use of open data in city government. (Photo: City of San Francisco)

SF Mayor Ed Lee introduced open data legislation on October 15 that would create a chief data officer and promote the use of open data in city government. (Photo: City of San Francisco)

Today, open data and its power to transform a city and a nation by engaging tech savvy citizens will be on display at San Francisco City Hall. And just as importantly, companies that have been successful because of forward thinking open data policies will testify to our elected leaders about its importance. As a founder of one of these sustainable companies, Appallicious, I am proud to be speaking on behalf of the open data movement.

After hearing testimony from myself and others in the open data industry, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will review and vote on new legislation that will strengthen the city’s open data initiatives and allow San Francisco to appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to manage the City’s open data efforts.

More than three years ago the City of San Francisco launched DataSF.org, the city’s one-stop shop for government data. San Francisco was the first city to follow the federal government’s open government effort, Data.gov when it launched DataSF.org. Since then, more than 70 apps have been developed for city residents by civic innovators and companies– countless other cities and towns have been inspired to follow San Francisco’s lead and have enacted similar policies, providing residents with greater accessibility to government data.

San Francisco’s open data efforts have helped spur the creation of apps for citizens that makes it easier for residents to receive government services, actively participate in city policy and have saved the city a substantial amount of money. Behind these open data apps are new, civically minded companies, and a new industry that is starting to emerge in the land of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  Companies like Appallicious100PlusRoutesy, and Zonability, that would not have been possible just a couple years ago are popping up in cities all over the country supported by amazing organizations like Code For America.

Back in October 2012, I was proud to join San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor David Chiu and San Francisco Rec & Park GM Phil Ginsburg as they introduced the revised open data legislation. These Gov 2.0 leaders used the event to highlight companies like Appallicious that are using open data to create apps and re-imagine our city. They launched the San Francisco Rec & Park app that Appallicious created using over 1,000 datasets for parks, playgrounds, and dog parks, along with transportation datasets so residents can get directions to all of the City’s attractions. All of these datasets are available on DataSF.org.

The SF Rec & Park app makes it easy for anybody to find city parks, playgrounds, museums, picnic tables, gardens, restrooms, news and events and more in the palm of your hand. Information is displayed with descriptions and pictures on a GPS enabled mobile map.

The SF Rec & Park app, which was recently named by Mashable as one of 7 open data apps every city should have, also will soon make it easier for residents to make reservations for a soccer field or picnic table, or apply for a permit when they need to host an event in a public park. All of this will be available through a mobile device or on the web, saving taxpayers and government workers time and money. No longer will you have to wait on hold or send multiple emails to confirm a picnic table reservation for a birthday party.

Open data apps like this are only the beginning of something much bigger that is being made possible by open data policies and government leaders that get its importance.

On his first day as President, Obama signed the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government to spur innovation at the Federal level for private sector development. This move inspired progressive cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia to create their own open data legislation at the local level.  This has led to an emergent new industry, unparalleled innovation, job creation, revenue, and collaboration between government and the private sector not seen since President Reagan’s decision to open up the Global Positioning System in the 1980s.

Organizations like Code for America and Citizenville, as well as private companies like Appallicious and the SF Rec & Park app are living, breathing examples of the new industry first created by President Reagan in the 1980s and rejuvenated by President Obama.

Stay tuned, a whole new industry is starting to take form powered by open data on a local level, creating jobs, revenue, and never before seen citizen and government.

If your city is new to the open data movement, please ask your elected leaders to take the Citizenville Challenge and bring open data policies and innovation to your community. And take a second to support the open data movement by applauding Appallicious’ submission to the Knight Foundation News Challenge and others that are transforming the way government and citizens engage and communicate.

Corrections: “Open Government Act” was changed to “memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.” Reference to “Open GPS” was changed to “Global Positioning System.”

Big feet: Walkonomics wants to crowdsource the friendliness of the world’s streets

Walkonomics

Walkonomics founder Adam Davies shares the vision for crowdsourcing street friendliness.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

The new Walkonomics mobile app rates and maps the pedestrian-friendliness of every street in San Francisco, Manhattan and England!

What problem does it solve for government?

Local and national governments are increasingly becoming aware of citizens and businesses demand for walkable streets and areas. Walkable streets bring many benefits including increased home values, higher footfall for business, reduced CO2 emissions, healthier residents, lower levels of obesity, less crime and fewer road accidents.

Identifying, measuring and improving a streets walkability is not always easy, and it can be hard to know where to start. Unlike other walkability apps that just measure how many destinations are within walking distance, Walkonomics uses open data and crowdsourcing to rate each street for eight categories that actually affect how pedestrian-friendly a street is.

These categories include:

  • Road Safety
  • Crossings
  • Sidewalks
  • Hilliness
  • Navigation
  • Fear of Crime
  • Smart and Beautiful
  • Fun and Relaxing

Users can add their own reviews and even suggest ideas for improvement. With more cities being launched soon, Walkonomics provides a great tool for government to analyse, engage and improve walkability in their city or region.

What’s the story behind starting Walkonomics?

Walkonomics was founded and launched as a web-app in 2011, by Adam Davies, a sustainable transport consultant based in the UK, the Android App was launched in October 2012, and the iPhone App has just launched. The idea behind Walkonomics is to harness the power of open data and crowdsourcing to rate the walkability of every street in the world. It came out of a frustration with existing walkability apps and the lack of real information about which parts of different cities are walking friendly, particularly when looking for somewhere to live or a holiday location.

What are its key features?

Users can:

  • Check the walkability of nearby streets and areas;
  • Search by location, place name or post code;
  • View search results on a map with colour-coded markers;
  • Discover new walk-friendly areas and streets;
  • Instantly get detailed walkability reviews and ratings of streets based on real data and people’s views;
  • Add your own ratings, reviews and ideas for improvement;
  • Undertake walkability audits and crowdsource local people’s ideas for improving streets.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

The Walkonomics App is free to download and use.

How can those interested connect with you?

Video

BillTrack50 wants to make it easier to search, engage with legislation

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Note: This is not a product promotion or endorsement. Learn how you can get featured.

BillTrack50Karen Suhaka shares her vision for BillTrack50.

Give us the BillTrack50 elevator pitch.

BillTrack50 provides convenient and user-friendly 50-state legislative data to both citizens and those with a professional interest.

What civic problem does BillTrack50 solve?

We are making it easier for citizens to research what their state legislature is doing about topics of interest to them, and look at trends and across the country generally.  We’ve also given them the information they need to follow up with their representative, if they like.  More importantly we have tools to help individuals and organizations more easily share information about pending legislation.  For example see: http://missoulainsession.com/stakeholder.php  The embedded bill tracker is our stakeholder page tool; we keep the basics updated — add relevant bills that get introduced, keep up with the latest status, votes, etc. Then the mayor of Missoula can add whatever additional information they would like to share with their residents, such as their position on each bill.

What’s the story behind starting BillTrack50?

I am a serial entrepreneur, and most of my businesses have revolved around compiling publicly available data from state governments, and making it useful to consumers and businesses. After selling my last company I started looking for ideas for a new business. I came across the concept of online legislation tracking, and thought it would be great to break it wide open, and make it available for free for everyone.

We launched in March of 2012, and already have close to 2,000 registered users. However anyone can read bills on the site, registered or not, and in January of 2013 we passed 1,000,000 bills read on the site. People are embracing the ability to share bills they think are important; some share privately to an internal group, but most share publicly.

I think there are lots of smart people in our country, and somewhere someone has a good idea about every challenge we face. I want to get those people informed, and connected, to build a better country for everyone. It especially behooves people in government to stay aware of, and participate in, the democratic process as it relates to their area of expertise.

What are its key features?

Anyone can search for bills or legislators for free, and get a wealth of up-to-date information.  Subscribers can save searches, set up alerts, and share their bill feed with others. The key feature that make all of our services useful is that the bill text and other information is open to everyone. So it’s easy to put our widget on your page to share bills you care about, and your readers can click through and learn more without any barriers. We also have a tool to make it easy to rate legislators and create a graphical, interactive scorecard on your site.

We have also processed all of the bills into uniform structured xml, which allows us to so some neat tricks, like comparing bill texts to see what has changed between revisions.  Having the bills as data also allows me to do fun mathematical analysis, which I share on my blog.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Basic access is free. Searching for bills requires you to register, which is free, you just need to give us your name and email. Subscriptions to save searches and user our other tools start at $500/year. See our product comparison matrix for more details.

How can those interested connect with you?

Videos

Park.IT or ticket

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Note: This is not a product promotion or endorsement. Learn how you can get featured.

Co-founder Manohar Kamath shares his vision for Park.IT.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

When you drive into a busy city like San Francisco, the problem is where to park, as the parking occupancy is often over 95%. Second question, can I park here and will I get a ticket? Park.it creates happy drivers driving in cities like San Francisco, by helping them avoid parking tickets or tow away charges along with parking (street and garages) choices at their fingertips.

What civic problem does it solve?

People on average spend 20-30min of their time searching for parking. This adds to the city traffic congestion leading to unhappy drivers. Park. it Lite App help drivers find on and off street parking, obey city parking laws and reduce pollution from traffic congestion. Overtime with large user base, Park. it will have collected enough user data/behaviors to develop parking analytics which can help city government and local businesses to provide incentives for people to make San Francisco their favorite destination.

What’s the story behind starting park.it?

Myself (Manohar Kamath) and Calvin Liu are the founders of www.Park.it . The company was founded in the year 2010. We worked together in Semiconductor and EDA industry. I (Manohar Kamath) live with my family in Fremont and visit San Francisco often for business and pleasure. Every time I faced the problem of finding parking, may it be in the financial district, North beach, Fisherman’s wharf, AT&T Park, theatre areas etc. Invariably ended up parking in garages (which can be expensive) due to the fear of getting a parking ticket or being towed away not knowing the parking rules. Calvin on the other hand, has been living in San Francisco downtown for over 10 years and faces the challenge of having to remember to move his car for street cleaning and has gotten his car towed away due to parking sign changes. We also have stories from friends and family who are new to the city and have racked up hundreds of $$ of parking tickets. All of this, set us on the quest of solving this parking problem in metro cities.

We launched the first Beta version of the App (both on Android and iOS) in Dec 2011. This helped us in user validation. We started out with a subscription model (monthly and/or yearly) but soon found, people didn’t like to create accounts and provide credit card info. We also received feedback from users about usability. Inspite of these issues, we saw large number of users downloading and continuing to use it till today.

For the last several months we worked on fixing usability issues, removed the need for users to create accounts and provide credit card info. Beginning 2013, Park.it Lite was released.

What are its key features?

Find parking either around where you are at or near your driving destination in the following manner,

Specify a parking duration (30min to 3 days)

Enter your driving destination address (Type or Speak) OR select current location. Currently Speak (Voice to text) is only supported for the Android platform.

Choose to display only what is desired: No parking areas, Street parking and Garage parking

In-phone notification in case the specified parking duration is exceeded or instant alerts like active tow away, street sweeping, or incline parking. This saves you getting parking tickets from PEO (Parking Enforcement officer).

For metered street parking or parking garages, the cost per hour is shown.

If SFPark metered spaces with sensors are available, the number of open spaces are displayed on real time basis.

Displays (Red hat Pin) your parked spot in case you have forgotten.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Freemium model

Park. it Lite (Free version) with advertising currently available on Google Play and App Store.
Park. it Premium (paid version) with no advertising and special features will be made available in the future.

How can those interested connect with you?

Screenshots

Park.IT

Park.IT

Park.IT

Park.IT

NationBuilder brings community software to government

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Note: This is not a product promotion or endorsement. Learn how you can get featured.

NationBuilderNationBuilder Vice President of Community Adriel Hampton introduces the company’s newest offering, NationBuilder Government.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

NationBuilder Government is a unified web, communications and CRM database solution – at less than $100 a month for most entities (yes, really).

What problems does NationBuilder solve for government?

Governments of all sizes struggle with listening well to feedback from a growing number of communications channels. The challenge is to provide better customer service, and to do it cost effectively.

NationBuilder is a unified organizing platform that’s designed to improve the efficiency of communications and constituent/customer service staff.

What’s the story behind NationBuilder?

We’ve been around for a few years, but just launched our Government Edition earlier this month.

Jim Gilliam founded the company after personally seeing the power of people connected by the internet as family and friends helped him get a double-lung transplant six years ago. I met Jim in 2009 while I was running for Congress, and joined NationBuilder as employee number 3 in May 2011.

Doing internet software for government better, more efficiently, is extremely important to me. There’s no reason to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for these technologies.

Why should governments use your SaaS product and not an open source alternative?

Haha, I asked for that, right? So, open source projects have greatly helped to lower the costs of providing services over the web. We use a number of open source technologies including Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL and Liquid (a templating language that we’ve helped extend) – that allow companies like ours flourish at very low cost.

Instead of paying millions of dollars a year in licensing, we’re able to offer end-to-end solutions to cities and officeholders for just hundreds of dollars a year.

Open source products are never free for government – they require technical staff and consultants. We value transparent pricing and require it from our partners, and provide a comprehensive, regularly updated solution that does not require a tech team to implement or maintain.

What are NationBuilder Government’s key features?

Interactive websites, email and text blasting, and constituent services tracking.

With NationBuilder, a government office can manage events, log and track issues, send email newsletters, and manage social media communications and an entire website all in one place.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Our pricing is based on the size of your database – the smallest plans are $19 a month, a large city with 50,000 people on its email list would pay $499 a month with no limit on administrative users.

How can those interested connect with you?