A new, open database of prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) for the upcoming UK general election in May has been launched online.

The website, called ‘YourNextMP.com’, will allow anyone to look up information about their local candidates, including their websites, Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles.

For the first time the data is free for anyone to use. In previous elections the list of PPCs has only been available at a price from commercial organisations.

The website uses software called PopIt written by online democracy group mySociety, which stores data so it can be reused by other sites and mobile apps. The website is also open source, so it could be used by other countries to crowdsourced a database of their potential MPs.

The website was built by Sym Roe and Mark Longair from Democracy Club, a project building tools and databases to help inform voters, with help from Jenny Duckett and Zarino Zappia.

The volunteers hope the data will be used to spawn a wide range of websites, apps and research to help make 2015 the ‘most informed’ election yet.

The website will not be complete until submissions to stand close 11 days before the election. However data will continue to be added and refined from now and until then so the database provides as full a picture as possible.

The volunteers behind the project believe it will be “the most comprehensive, accurate and structured list of prospective candidates to date”.

Roe, a developer, said: “We’re really excited to see what will come out of this project, whether from individuals working on their own, or NGOs and other organisations: hopefully it will enable all kinds of innovation.

“People won’t have to start from zero by collecting or buying the data themselves; it’s all there for them.”

While the Electoral Commission, which regulates party finance and elections, is responsible for receiving deposits from candidates it does not have a database on PCCs.

Councils also publish information on candidates but they only do so 11 working days before the election, usually on their own individual websites.