Labour MP Darren Jones has launched a smartphone app for residents of his constituency in Bristol North West to discuss local issues.
Hundreds of constituents have signed up for Powered by You following a soft launch earlier this week. It resembles a conventional social network, allowing users to share updates and photos and comment on each others’ posts.
The app has been built by Disciple, the same developer which launched Matt Hancock’s app earlier this year. Almost as soon as it went live in February, “Matt Hancock MP” was hijacked by people trolling the then culture secretary. But, unlike Hancock’s app, Jones’s is restricted to members of his constituency.
“Whilst my surgeries, coffee mornings and pub politics have proven popular, I’m conscious that lots of people lead busy lives and need a quick and easy way to tell me what they think,” said Jones in a statement. “That’s why I’ve launched the Powered by You mobile app. […] We’re really excited to see how it’ll end up working.”
Disciple provided the apps to Jones and Hancock free of charge. A spokesperson told NS Tech: “We have offered the service gratis for a year to a single politician from each of the major political parties to create a proof of concept. Powered by You will be declared as a gift in kind to the value of £6,000.”
The company’s founder Benji Vaughan added that “online communities are not well-served by mainstream social networks. By using our platform, Darren offers his community the interactivity and user-experience of social media, but with a focus on his community’s shared points of interest and in a space he can control.
“This ‘bottom up’ approach to digital democracy to engage the electorate is an innovative use of our platform and I hope other MPs will follow his lead.”