Election Data Released for Democracy Hackathon

Today, the Office of the City Commissioners released six data sets. The new data sets could be used to improve the Election Day experience and promote civic engagement in Philadelphia.

The released election data includes:

The data was released in conjunction with the Apps for Philly Democracy Hackathon, a Code for Philly event that will bring together technologists, community organizers, and civic-engagement enthusiasts to prototype apps relating to democracy and/or civic-engagement.

If you have an idea for how the democratic experience or civic-engagement could be improved through technology, consider participating in the Apps for Philly Democracy Hackathon. The hackathon is a great event for the engaged or curious Philadelphian, even for those without technical skills. The event’s opening reception will include a brainstorm session on what to build or how to utilize data. Hackathon participants with advanced skills will likely lead in technical development but team members of every skill level can assist in each project’s research, design, marketing, and eventual launch. The opening reception will take place on Friday, March 27th in the City Hall Caucus Room from 5pm-7:30pm. The hackathon will take place on Saturday and Sunday in the City’s Innovation Lab on the 16th floor of the Municipal Services Building. City Commissioner Al Schmidt will be one of the judges for the hackathon’s final presentation at 2:00pm on Sunday.

“My office is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this important event. The Data Inventory Initiative is consistent with my commitment to improve the transparency and accountability of government by making election information available to the public. I look forward to seeing all of the great uses of these data sets by the participants in the Apps for Philly Democracy Hackathon. Together we can make election data accessible to everyone who wants to participate in the democratic process,” said Commissioner Schmidt.

Today’s data release has obvious external benefits but it is an important internal accomplishment as well. The election data is the first in a batch of upcoming releases that have gone through the City’s new open data process. The open data team worked with the Office of City Commissioner Al Schmidt to first create a data inventory (a comprehensive list of all datasets owned by a department, detailing its accuracy and sensitivity). Unpublished datasets then received feedback from both the public (via the City’s data inventory website) and the City’s data advisory group (representing diverse communities of public data users), to gauge which datasets were the most valuable. Next, datasets were prioritized by the department and entered into the open data team’s pipeline of work to scrub data, build automated processes for future updates, and release datasets into a central data store for public use. These releases are an indication that the City’s open data process is working and could be a repeatable way of doing business for Philadelphia city government.

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