You can now use your smartphone to watch live streaming video from the House of Representatives through HouseLive.gov, a website run by the Office of the Clerk of the House.
Although the website has been active since the beginning of the previous Congress, the streaming capabilities were recently expanded to mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads.
Don Seymour, digital communications director for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said the increased access to live streaming of House floor action is a part of the “Pledge to America” made by House Republicans, which included a promise for more transparency.
“Republicans promised in the Pledge to America to make Congress more ‘open and transparent,’ and Speaker Boehner is pleased that efforts like HouseLive.gov help deliver on that pledge,” Seymour added.
The Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit group concerned with increasing transparency, has been pushing for increased video accessibility in the past few years.
In a report released in 2007, the foundation called for the House to provide live and archived video of its proceedings to the public through the Internet.
“The coverage of government events is something the government should be responsible for,” said John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation.
Wonderlich is optimistic about the potential for the HouseLive.gov stream.
“It gives the institution of the House something to build on so that they can develop other features,” he said, adding that he hopes the website will eventually connect transcripts to the videos, so that a user can click on a place in the transcript and be taken to that moment in the video footage.
Wonderlich said he hopes that the HouseLive.gov stream will eventually include coverage of House committee proceedings, something the Sunlight Foundation originally mentioned in its 2007 report.
“That would be the biggest room for improvement,” he said. ”Get it to apply to committees.”
Currently, C-SPAN offers an audio-only streaming application for the iPhone and BlackBerry and is working on an application for Android phones.
The application allows users to listen to the content being streamed on C-SPAN’s three channels and C-SPAN Radio.
C-SPAN Communications Director Howard Mortman said the network welcomes the expansion of HouseLive.gov accessibility.
“The more the merrier when it comes to getting information to the American public,” he said.
The HouseLive.gov video streaming feature was developed by Granicus Inc., a San Francisco-based company that provides governing agencies with media streaming techniques. Other recent clients include the city of Los Angeles, the city and county of San Francisco, and the Arizona State Legislature.
According to the Office of the Clerk, the HouseLive.gov stream has had 52,000 users since the beginning of the year. However, the office does not maintain records on how many of those users have been viewing the stream on a mobile device.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.