Local News

Want to keep up with state politics? App by local startup aims to make it easier

Posted February 1, 2019 3:35 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2019 6:45 p.m. EST

— While studying environmental economics and policy as a student at Duke University, Kelly Garvy quickly learned that keeping abreast of state politics is not easy.

"I just was really curious about state policy," Garvy said. "It just felt like it was shrouded in darkness and secrecy (and) it felt hard to understand what was going on."

That confusion gave her an idea.

She wanted to start a website and a mobile app to make it easier for the average person to follow pending legislation. She's been working with a team for about a year to launch the app, known as Upstate NC.

"I think the original motivation was to give a lot more people access to this information as somewhere to go to say this is what's really happening," Garvy said.

The site does come with a fee if you are a professional, like a lawyer or a lobbyist looking for in-depth information. But the app is free for civic minded people who are interested in staying informed about what legislation is under consideration by state lawmakers and where the proposal stands.

Garvy said she plans to keep that section free and accessible to anyone.

"I know there's a lot of members of the public who track issues around education (and) there's been coal ash spills where people have gotten involved," Garvy said. "I think that those people will be able to use it in a way that makes their lives a lot easier because it's very time consuming to do this manually."

Others say the online app will make it easier for North Carolina residents to monitor offline legislative developments.

"People are busy, they don't have time to look at the legislative website all day so this is a good way to let them know what's going on and things that matter to them," said Crystal Williams-Brown, who has worked on the website as a member of Code The Dream.