BARRINGTON – GenCourtMobile is a new mobile phone application integrated with the New Hampshire State Legislature’s website (aka “the General Court“). It makes it significantly easier to keep track of legislation, committee hearings, and legislator details on a smart phone. In addition to being optimized for mobile phone viewing, it offers a number of features that the state’s website doesn’t:
- Subscribe to be notified of all updates to specific bills
- US congressional district data (mapping towns to the district number), along with the contact information for the respective Representative
- New Hampshire Liberty Alliance endorsements, as well as the NHLA’s own Liberty Rating data, including a detailed breakdown of each legislator’s record on graded votes
- Ability to search State Reps by license plate number
- Ability to search by town name or zip code to find your State Reps and Executive Council district
- “Votes Most Like” – shows the number of roll call votes where two legislators voted the same way
The app was unveiled at the NHLA’s Liberty Dinner last month. Limited functionality is available to the public. The fully featured version is being offered as a perk to NHLA members. We sat down with the creator of GenCourtMobile (GCM), Seamus Casey, to find out more.
SLN: What brought you to New Hampshire?
SC: I’m a software engineer who originally moved to southern New Hampshire in order to live close to a job I took in northern Massachusetts. After crossing the border, I quickly learned how different things were here, as compared to Mass. It was easy to see how “Live Free or Die” wasn’t just an empty motto, but was truly a way of life. So, no – I did not move here for the Free State Project, as many might assume. However, I choose to stay here for the same reasons as so many FSP participants, and because of them.
SLN: What gave you the idea for GCM?
SC: Well, I was at the statehouse to support some pro-liberty bills. There were many high-impact bills scheduled for committee hearings that day, and I was trying to use the state’s General Court site to look up which were going on in what hearing rooms, and when. The site was definitely created before the advent of mobile computing. Needless to say, I found it less than efficient to be continually panning, scrolling, zooming in and out, and endless lateral navigation trying to find the information I sought. I thought, “wow, a mobile version of this sure would be great!” It didn’t exist, so I set out to create it.
SLN: How long did it take you to develop it?
SC: I first started working on it in late January or early February of 2014. I had a prototype up and running within a few weeks. At that point, it only had some very basic features. I started with what I wanted most, such as basic legislator and bill searches, and a mobile-friendly way of presenting upcoming committee hearings. Like many such projects, the scale and scope grew substantially, and continues to do so. It was always a part time project, taking a backseat to the day job, and my desire to spend time on it has varied. Starting late last November, I pushed forward with an aggressive schedule to have a very functional working beta in time for the new legislative session. And it was ready for limited release in time for that! I initially shared it only with a small, core group of activists, mostly current and past members of the NHLA board, plus a few pro-liberty legislators. A more broad release started at Liberty Forum, where I was asked to speak about GCM as part of a panel discussion pertaining to technology as a “force multiplier.” That gave me the push to complete a few tasks that had prevented me from releasing it to a larger audience: access controls, and proper hosting.
SLN: How much did it cost you to develop it?
SC: Apart from hosting costs, it has cost me only my time…oh, and a great deal of lost sleep during the more gung-ho bursts of creation. I certainly could have applied the time towards additional paid work of some sort, but I felt this was more important than just earning more money.
SLN: What kind of feedback have you received from users?
SC: I have generally received very enthusiastic feedback. It seems I wasn’t alone in wanting these sorts of abilities!
SLN: Are there plans for new features?
SC: Indeed! The to-do list is extensive. Right now, I’m slightly more focused on enjoying New Hampshire’s all-too-brief summer, but I keep working on the list. My biggest interest lately is getting municipal and county government data integrated, so I’ve been identifying how that can be structured. Unlike the state data, which is highly structured and predictable in format, each city/town and county does their own thing, and presents it in differing manners.
SLN: What other sorts of liberty activism do you do?
SC: It should come as no surprise that the forms of activism I gravitate towards tend to be that of a political / legislative nature. After all, that was the catalyst for the creation of GenCourtMobile. This includes citizen lobbying, testifying before legislative committees, and assisting the campaigns of pro-liberty candidates. Time-permitting (i.e., when the work schedule allows for it), I have also recently been joining some other great activists performing jury outreach, handing out information cards to prospective jurors to help inform them of their rights to judge the facts, as well as the application, of the laws in question.
SLN: Anything else you’d like Shire Liberty News readers to know?
SC: Hmmm. At some point I will be looking for volunteers to help expand the data available in GCM. This includes: gathering, inputting, and maintaining municipal and county government data; collecting information on legislators; defining important criteria for categorizing bills. There is only so much one person can do!
For more information, Seamus Casey can be reached via http://gencourtmobile.com/About/Contact