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Parliamentary App of the Year

Graeme Jones, Melanie Swan and Benedict Allen (picture courtesy of Rewired State)

​The two-day event on November 16th and 17th launched UK Parliament Week and was organised in conjunction with social enterprise Rewired State and hosted at startups lab Hub Westminster in the New Zealand High Commission near London’s Trafalgar Square.

The hack weekend brought together activists, policy advisers, designers, coders and data specialists to build rapid prototypes using new datasets released to coincide with the event and open data already available online, and then demonstrate in a ‘show and tell’ live session before a judging panel.

Mr Jones joined with 15-year-old Benedict Allen from England, Melanie Swan from the US and Tobi Ogunleye from Nigeria to form the team Political Futures and design Westminster Stock Exchange, a trading platform to buy ‘shares’ in politicians and crowdfund political parties and issue-based politics.  They calculated a monetary value and real-time pricing for each MP based on constituency statistics, election results, opinion polls, regional GDP, popularity on social networks and engagement with the legislation that affects people’s lives.

He explained: ‘We had never met before, despite which the four of us gelled very quickly around an initial idea during 60-second introductions. We worked 10 hours on Saturday and five on Sunday but some teams continued coding into the night with about 20 people sleeping shifts in sleeping bags on the floor.

‘I had to smile when I realised that Ben used an Isle of Man website address and Melanie is not only a hedge fund manager in San Francisco but also a lecturer at the Singularity University in Silicon Valley where two Isle of Man “students” are joining the next executive week in December.

‘I’d never been to a hack weekend before. My main motivation for attending was to learn the latest software tools and refine my existing skills, so to have unexpectedly gained external validation through winning Parliamentary App of the Year at the first attempt was really satisfying.

‘The judges praised our app for being “broadly engaging” with the potential to appeal to a wide cross section of users. We have been invited by Hub Westminster to apply for a place in the UK Cabinet Office-funded 14-week intensive bootcamp with nearly £10,000 seed capital per founder and £50,000 follow-on investment to transform ideas into economic growth.’

Political Futures was one of 18 teams to meet the deadline to present projects to the judging panel of John Pullinger, House of Commons director general of information services, Joan Miller, director of the UK’s parliamentary ICT service and cloud company Twilio’s head of European marketing Ben Nunney.

In his ‘day job’ Mr Jones is part of the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald team. Clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips said: ‘We’re all delighted that Graeme has been able to apply his considerable IT talents outside the precincts of Tynwald to such great effect. In addition to serving Members much of our work is about building greater understanding of and engagement with parliamentary democracy. This was reflected in Political Futures’ winning app and I offer my congratulations to Graeme and his fellow team members on their success.’

Mr Jones was recently elected Isle of Man chairman of the British Computer Society, the Royal Chartered Institute for Information Technology.

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Graeme Jones is pictured with fellow Political Futures team members Melanie Swan and Benedict Allen. (Tobi Ogunleye unavailable for photo. Photo courtesy Rewired State.)

For further information contact:

Jonathan King

Deputy Clerk of Tynwald and Clerk of the Legislative Council

Legislative Buildings, Douglas, IM1 3PW

Tel: 01624 685500

Email: j.king@tynwald.org.im

Published - 27/11/2013