Congress+ by market research company Cohen Research Group is a great reference app for the politically minded user or for anyone working in US politics like party officials, activists, political professionals or lobbyists.
Unlike other apps like Elections or Campaign, Congress+ is a more professional application, which provides information on all members of congress, from their photo, name, title, state and party affiliation to their official bio, their office address, their capitol staff, their committee assignments as well as their website and contact information. Furthermore, the user gets to browse campaign news (Google) and use links to campaign websites.
At this moment only the Plus version is available at the app store but a basic election version for the price of $1.99 is in review at Apple and should be released very soon. The election version will include all of the above information except for the staff info and the committee assignments and it will not have any updates past election day, while the Plus version includes yearly updates through 2010.
In addition to this already very complete Congess+ reference app, the Cohen Research Group will also be releasing a Pro version, which allows updates at any time through the company’s website.
At $99 the Pro version might seem expensive to the normal iPhone user but for anyone who needs to refer to the Congressional Yellow Book (which costs over $400) for work, the price seems fair.
The phone numbers and email addresses for the offices of the members of Congress and for their immediate staff in the Plus and Pro versions take the user directly to the phone or mail functions of the iPhone.
The only downside is the fact that while the developer’s website can be opened through the application, any other website (campaign websites etc.) open through Safari, forcing the user to always close Safari and open Congress+ again when wanting to return to the previous page. In a short interview with developer Michael D. Cohen, he told me that they had already recognized this as something that will be improved in the first update.
For anyone working on Capitol Hill, this app must be a time-saving improvement to their work. And for anyone who is not professionally linked to politics but is looking for an easy way to keep up with who our politicians are and is looking for a quick and simple way of voicing an opinion or concern, Congress+ is a serious and truly informative reference app.