For the past two semesters, ASU students in the Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation Lab were building an iPhone application to provide Arizona users with information about elected officials.
The New Media Innovation Lab, housed on the Downtown campus, has conducted research and developed projects for news organizations since 2006.
The application, called The Arizona Political Directory, gives users the ability to sift through pictures, Web sites, biographies and contact information of county, state and federal officials. The application is connected to the iPhone’s GPS system, allowing users to look up information about officials near the iPhone’s location.
“If you are driving around and want to contact or complain to your elected officials you could do it from your phone,” said Retha Hill, director of the New Media Innovation Lab.
Users can touch a button on the application to dial an official’s phone number or e-mail him or her.
The creation of the directory began when students at the Innovation Lab wanted to do a mobile application for the iPhone, Hill said. At the same time, The Arizona Guardian, an online political publication, was looking for such an application.
“We're one of the only remaining Arizona-owned and operated news publications and we wanted to give something back to the state that could make a difference in how citizens engage with their elected representatives,” said Robert Grossfeld, publisher of The Arizona Guardian.
The online publication began in 2009 and made the iPhone application free for all users.
The application, launched on May 14, can also provide quick updates of election results.
“It's a pretty handy app,” said Hannah Nunez, a journalism sophomore and daughter of Eve Nunez, a woman running for the state Senate. “I use it for my mom's campaign. When I hear a name mentioned or she's talking to someone, I look them up real quickly and inform her of their background and their district.”
The Arizona Guardian is also looking into doing a Droid and BlackBerry version of the application to reach more people.
The New Media Innovation Lab also hopes to make a directory of officials in other states as well, Hill said.
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