PPF Blog

Councilmatic Momentum in 2016

Chicago_Clerk_praiseTomorrow is #codeacross America 2016, so I wanted to update the CFA community and #opengov hackers on gathering momentum with Councilmatic.

Excited that Councilmatic is one of the challenge projects in Toronto: “David Hains of Torontoist wants to build a Toronto version of Councilmatic, a modern open-source platform where citizens can easily navigate, learn, discover and share what city hall is up to — legislation introduced and passed, the various committees and the meetings they hold, and the councillors themselves.”

Go team Toronto, thanks David & all in local media. Join our Slack to chat – OpenCivicData, #Councilmatic channel. Briefly, Councilmatic is different, as an open-source community project:

  • It creates new city #opendata in the Open Civic Data standard for more #civictech projects to re-use.
  • Plus it’s a fast & responsive web app that can be customized for your area.

To emphasize: last year, phenomenal tech leads DataMade put in a lot of thoughtful work to re-factor the app’s open Django code and make Councilmatic easier to re-deploy in new cities (usually w/ writing new data scrapers).

So while previously it was a bit difficult to hack on Councilmatic, now it’s far more possible for a Brigade or group of volunteers to stand up their own version. Its city legislative data & features can be used by government professionals, issue group members, neighborhood associations, political journalists, and “interested bystanders” searching for their local elected officials or how government works.

View of Chicago homepage, lots of recent shouts from Chi City Clerk.

View of Chicago homepage, lots of recent shouts from Chi City Clerk.

Also briefly, our public dev roadmap – we’re seeking to build unique, much-requested alert features – over email & SMS & social media – for city issues you’re tracking and public events. Stay informed about agendas & minutes from committee hearings, and comment on proposed legislation in advance, in an open public forum.

Last June, Catherine Bracy gave a mainstage talk on this need at PdF conference in NYC: “Public engagement is broken. Are you part of the problem?” Councilmatic will soon do even more to increase participation and awareness in city government, closing the feedback loop for local engagement, e.g. with public comment forums ahead of council hearings.

Mockup of forthcoming alert features on Councilmatic pages for public events.

Mockup of forthcoming alert features on Councilmatic pages for public events.

As we seek to roll out Councilmatic as a public resource to cities nationwide, there are three primary ways to bring it to your area. Get in touch to discuss, email: info at councilmatic.org. We’ll respond right away.

1. Help PPF, as a 501(c)3 non-profit, identify a charitable funder in your city or state for a grant. Could be a regional foundation or an individual philanthropist or a community group partner.

2. Have your city government contract with DataMade as a software vendor to set up Councilmatic, customized with data offerings & features as you specify. It’s open-source, so a very very low risk of “lock-in”, and new features being continually developed in other cities to spread for the public benefit.

3. Check GitHub, grab some developers, and hack on it with local partners as a volunteer project. Contact us to discuss more how it can be marketed and sustained in your city.

Mockup of forthcoming alert features - bring Councilmatic to your city and you'll get these, open to customize.

Mockup of forthcoming alert features – bring Councilmatic to your city and you’ll get these, open to customize.

Read more about value of NYC’s version from one of our local community group partners, Freelancers Union, and praise on Twitter from Chicago City Clerk. Thanks Clerk Mendoza!

Questions & feedback always welcome, @councilmatic or @ppolitics, I’ll be at NYC’s #CodeAcross of course. Get in touch, we’re easy to reach.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Take Part

Your email address will not be published.