New York State Senate Launches Nation's First iPad App For Legislation

 

    Senate Majority Continues National Leadership in Using Technology to Foster Transparent, Efficient, Participatory Government

    The New York State Senate today announced availability of "NYSenate for iPad," the first application in the nation developed by a legislative body for the Apple iPad.  The application can be downloaded for free today from the Apple iTunes App Store.
     
    Like its predecessor, NYSenate Mobile for iPhones and Android phones, NYSenate for iPad brings New Yorkers closer to their elected officials, making comprehensive access to Senate information and content from all New York State Senators available any time, anywhere-- citizens, staff, and journalists can use the app to search for bill information, contact their Senator, review event calendars, read Senator's blogs, watch archived video of Senate Session, Committee Meetings and Public Hearings, and even submit Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. 
     
    The Mobile app has been downloaded by more than 1,000 New Yorkers since the June launch.
     
    The iPad application goes beyond the iPhone and Android apps, however, taking advantage of the larger screen to provide different modes for accessing the app. When a user holds the iPad in portrait mode, a newspaper-style display of the latest storied posted by all 62 Senate offices is featured, along with upcoming events, the latest YouTube clips and highlighted Senate initiatives. When the iPad is turned to landscape mode, a detailed menu is revealed, providing full access to browse complete legislative data, video clips, calendars and more. In addition, access to the full, uncut session, meeting and event videos are provided, and can be played back full-screen and using the video-out capability of the iPad.
     
    NYSenate for iPad” was built entirely in-house by Senate staff, at no additional cost to taxpayers.  As with all software developed within the Senate, this mobile app has also been released at (see http://github.com/nysenatecio) under dual BSD and GPLv3 open-source software licenses; other legislatures, as well as non-profit organizations, media and small businesses are free to leverage the software to develop their own custom applications for the iPad.
     
    “Information is key to good government,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. “New Yorkers deserve ready access to their government and we are using technology to make it happen.”
     
    "A number of New York State Senators are already using the application on their personal iPads to stay on top of legislative information wherever they are.  We believe that mobile applications for devices such as the iPad can improve information awareness for Senators and staff wherever they are, whether in Session in the Capitol or walking the streets of their Distict, thus helping them to represent their constituents better.  This application is another step towards reducing the inefficient use of paper in the Senate, and in helping the Senate to become a world-class information management organization," said Andrew Hoppin, New York State Senate Chief Information Officer. 
     
    "Citizens Union applauds the Senate for its efforts to further increase transparency of its operations and public access to information through its new mobile application for the iPad," said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. "We urge other branches of government in the state to use this tool as a model for their own efforts to create greater transparency and ease of public access to information, using the best available technology."

    For more information about the New York State Senate's range of mobile applications, please visit: http://www.nysenate.gov/mobile

    For more information about what the Senate CIO is doing to open up government to the public visit: http://www.nysenate.gov/department/cio
     
    Open Government is Accountable Government:
    NYSenate for iPad is the latest in a series of “Open Senate” projects that seek to maximize the transparency and accessibility of legislative information for all New Yorkers, and provide new ways for citizens to participate in the legislative process.
    Other "Open Senate" projects include:

    • NYSenate.gov, launched in May 2009, is comprehensive repository of all Senate institutional administrative data, and well as a leading "Gov 2.0" portal comprised of websites for all 62 Senators and more than 40 Senate Committees that support citizens in interacting directly with their elected officials and the legislative process.  Prior to 2009, most administrative data either needed to be FOIL’d or had not been available at all. Examples include comprehensive calendars of official events, live and archived video of committee meetings and public hearings, and payroll and expenditure reports in downloadable spreadsheet format.
    • OpenLegislation.NYSenate.gov, a website and an Application Programming Interface (API) that makes legislative information available to the public in a way that it can easily be searched, publicly commented upon, and shared socially with others.  Open Legislation is first website of a legislature in the nation to accept public comment on all bills; much of the legislative information available, such as Committee Votes, was not available anywhere online before the launch of the "Open Leg" website in 2009.  All data is available in industry standard open formats as “feeds,” and the publicly accessible API allows the data to be integrated directly into web applications by third-parties.  The data that is available on the OpenLegislation website is also leveraged for internal software applications, such as NYSenate Mobile.
    • Open Source -- NYSenate.gov, NYSenate Mobile, and Open Legislation exclusively use open-source software, so the Senate does not owe any license fees for their maintenance; furthermore, all software code for the projects is published online and freely available under open-source BSD and GPLv3 licenses for re-use by peers in government and any other third-party, thus increasing the anticipated ROI of our investment in these projects. 
    • Open Standards & APIs -- All data and other content used in NYSenate.gov, NYSenate Mobile, and Open Legislation is also published as data feeds in open standards formats such as XML, CSV, and JSON, and there is also a freely available Application Programming Interface (API).   This empowers third-parties to do work the Senate might otherwise need to do itself, such as developing applications that provide access to Senate data in a variety of value-added forms such as interactive voice response (IVR) telephony, at no additional cost to the taxpayer, thus further increasing the value to taxpayers derived from the Senate's development of these projects.
    • Open Content --  NYSenate.gov has also garnered national attention for its progressive content licensing policies, as the first State website that has copyrighted its content under a “Creative Commons” license, which affirms the public right to freely reuse content under the stipulation that it not be used for political fundraising purposes.

     
    Open Senate was developed as part of an overall Information Technology modernization project in the Senate, initiated with the election of a new Senate Majority in January 2009, which has yielded in excess of $500,000 in annual net savings to date; savings have derived primarily from increasing the Senate's ability to create and maintain technology in-house, including using a combination of free open-source software and low-cost Software-As-A Service (SaaS) solutions whenever possible, thus enabling the Senate to cancel unnecessary maintenance and service contracts, and decommission expensive obsolete computer systems.



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