Posted on Monday 9 September 2013 by Ulster Business

INVEST NI MCE MCOOPER1

Launching the new app are Brian Cleland, software engineer at University of Ulster, Olive Hill, Invest NI, Chris Brown, MCE and Professor Jonathan Wallace, University of Ulster.

MCE Public Relations has developed Northern Ireland's first political contact web app using open data.

The app has been developed by Chris Brown, Head of Public Affairs at MCE in partnership with the University of Ulster, and is the first mobile web app created using the Northern Ireland Assembly open data project.

The project allows data on the work of the Assembly and its Committees to be published in its raw form, increasing the ways in which the data can be used. The data can be copied, published and adapted, as well as collated with other statistics and information to create new products such as web and mobile phone applications.

In developing the app, which can be downloaded at www.mcepublicrelations.com, MCE received assistance from Invest Northern Ireland through its Innovation Voucher scheme.

Chris Brown, Head of Public Affairs at MCE Public Relations added: "As a company that provides political monitoring, public affairs and social media advice, we spotted an opportunity to develop a web app to help people reference local politicians and get in contact with them.

"Our intention was to create a simple, in your pocket tool and we've achieved that adding some media contact details as an additional function.

"The open data project at the Assembly provides a wealth of possibilities for a company such as ours to interpret the vast amount of information on offer to create tools and services that can be used by the private, public and voluntary sectors locally and further afield.

"As a creative agency we have lots of wonderful ideas that never see the light of day. The assistance of Invest NI and the technology partner at the University of Ulster has been instrumental in making this idea a reality."

Olive Hill, Director of Innovation and Technology Solutions for Invest NI added: "What makes this project innovative is its use of open parliamentary data. It is a great example of what open data is all about – allowing people access to data to which they can add value and reproduce in a format such as a new mobile application.

"Using our Innovation Voucher MCE was able to link with the University of Ulster and get their help to research and design an innovative mobile web based app that will allow people to immediately search for their local political representative and access their full contact details."

Professor Jonathan Wallace, Director of Knowledge & Technology Transfer in the Faculty of Computing & Engineering at the University of Ulster said: "The Innovation Voucher Scheme is a very effective mechanism for academic colleagues to apply their extensive leading-edge research knowledge to the direct benefit of local industry.

"Innovation Vouchers are often the start of a longer-term strategic partnership between the University and companies leading to further collaborative R&D, or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

"The University of Ulster, and particularly the Faculty of Computing & Engineering, has been at the forefront of these industry engagements, with the University having completed over 350 voucher projects to date."

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