1. Zoomable maps and user accounts on FixMyStreet

    Last week, FixMyStreet gained a number of new features that we hope you will find useful.

    Birmingham on FixMyStreetStroud on FixMyStreetFirstly, we’ve thrown away our old maps and replaced them with new, shiny, zoomable maps. This should make it easier for people to find and report problems, especially in sparser locations. We’re using the OS StreetView layer (hosted internally) when zoomed in, reverting to Bing Maps’ Ordnance Survey layer when zoomed out, as we felt this provided the best combination for reporting problems. In urban areas, you can still see individual houses, whilst in more rural areas the map with footpaths and other such features is probably of more use. FixMyStreet tries to guess initially which map would be most appropriate based upon population density, meaning a search for Stroud looks a bit different from that for Birmingham.

    FixMyStreet with OpenStreetMap

    OpenStreetMap fans, don’t worry – as part of our mapping technology upgrade, you can now use osm.fixmystreet.com to access your favourite mapping instead.

    Secondly, we now have user accounts. We’ve rolled these out alongside our current system of email confirmation, and it’s up to you which you use when reporting a problem or leaving an update. This means that those who come to the site one time only to report a pothole can continue to do so quickly, but have the option of an account if they want. Having an account means you no longer have to confirm reports and updates by email, and you have access to a page listing all the reports you’ve made through FixMyStreet, and showing these reports on a (obviously new and shiny) summary map.

    Adur District Council reports

    Other improvements include a much nicer All Reports section, so you can see all reports to Adur District Council on a map, paginated and with the boundary of the council marked – and individual wards of councils now each have their own pages too.

    I’ll follow up this post with another, more technical, look at the maps and how they work, for anyone who’s interested :)

  2. Sejmometr.pl on iPad and iPhone

    Originally posted on Mackozer.pl

    Sejmometr.pl team is currently working on iPad and iPhone version of the portal. While working on this part of the project the team has asked a Polish blogger, Krystian MacKozer Kozerawski to post about this initiative and encourage readers to share their input as to how the applications should look like.

    Some of the commentators of this partucular blog post share their overall feedback on the idea, like Tomasz:

    “I really like the idea of the app, I am going to use it (I hope it is going to be free ;-) ).”

    Some comments contain valuable input for Jakub, who is promptly responding to it too:

    Qba: “I am not sure how realistic that is but apart form the overall results of votings I would like to be able to view how (or it at all) voted a particular MP (unless it’s doable on the website).”

    Jakub: “It’s possible on the website and we will add it to the apps. Thx!”

    Others suggest solutions that might prove useful for the portal itself:

    Marcin: “In stats of particular MP’s we could do with 4 lists of acts they have voted on, I meanW statystykach danego posła przydałyby się 4 listy ustaw za jakimi głosował tj. za, przeciw,wstrzymał się i lista ustaw na których głosowaniu się nie stawił.”

    Jakub: “@Marcin – dobre! Wstawimy tez pewnie do normalnej wersji!”

    As you can see, posting about your planned developments in the right channels can generate a bit of valuable feedback and promotion! Do share your work with your regional audiences and let us know how you have benefited from it!

  3. Working with Parašykjiems application

    International collaboration is crucial in work on cloned of the same tool – in this case we are talking about WriteToThem. Jaroslav from KohoVolit team has posted great update on their current work with application prepared in Lithuania by the Parašykjiems team:

    “We have also installed the necessary platform for Lithuanian WTT – Parašykjiems, the source code itself and after a short fight get it running on the localhost. A small error needed to be fixed. I am getting familiar with the application as well as the Python+Django platform and hopefuly start soon with customization for Czech republic.”

    The team is testing a scraper of data and updater for Senate. The updater of Chamber of Deputies is ready and working, so with this bit done they should have it ready for the entire Czech Parliament.

  4. Promoting NapisteJim.cz

    KohoVolit team has done great job in bringing together 20 celebrities on a screen of their promotional video for NapisteJim.cz – chech WTT. The official launch is planned for tomorrow, so we hope to hear more about it. In the meantime, check out the photos and watch out for the video on their blog!

    How do you promote your project? Let us know!

    Great idea, great work!

    Update: We have just been told that the launch was moved forward to the 26th of May.

  5. Interview with Dusan Zelenik from Dotankoch.sk

    As a result of our work with KohoVolit.eu we have been able to get in touch with few regional projects dedicated to government transparency. Today I would like to introduce you to Dotankoch.sk, Slovakian parliament watchdog. To do so, I got in touch with Dusan Zelenik, who works on this project. Enjoy!

    Sample MP profile

    Sylwia: What are the main goals of your project?

    Dusan: The main goal of dotankoch.sk is to provide simple, easy-to-understand presentation of happening in the slovak parliament. We want to bring information to regular people and help them to find out more about politicians, parties etc. We want to change the role of electors who are affected by press or election campaign to informed and responsible electors. At this site, you can see many statistics such as attendance, loyalty, participation in lawmaking, activity during discussions etc. We also provide a search engine which allows you to search in debates which were taken in parliament. We actually download data from the official site of slovak parliament and transform to make information more understandable, compact and visual.

    Sylwia: How big is the team working on the project?

    Dusan: There is no official team, because lot of people help just by discussing the project (like the PeWe group at fiit.stuba.sk). However, the core team consist of 4 people and the major part was made by single person.

    Sylwia: How is the public using your website?

    Dusan: DoTankoch.sk is mainly designed for electors and their need to find out more about politicians and their activities. However, also press is interested in aggregation we made, because it is often relevant in reports etc. We are glad that also chief of our parliament (Richard Sulik) finds this site very interesting. Maybe it is because alternative mechanism, which allows him to control parliament and happening there.

    Sylwia: What are the major challenges of your project?

    Dusan: Well, our challenge is to attract as many visitors/electors as it is possible. We want to change our country by helping electors to decide responsibly with some knowledge about parliament and politics.

    Check out the project website here.

  6. Update on InformataZyrtare.org

    Valon has sent us a quick update on their project too. In terms of the international development:

    “There are quite a few bugs in Internationalized (i18n) version of the WDTK code. Seb and Faton are testing and fixing them. Also Faton did some tweeks for Kosovan specific code.”

    As for the local site:

    “I have translated most of the strings in Albanian, I’m hoping to finish it in a few days.”

    There is also news on the project of mapping of public institutions:

    “The project has been approved last week and we will move forward very soon. I have spent some time last week helping our young team members with administrative and scheduling stuff.”

  7. Sejmometr.pl last week

    Sejmometr.pl team submitted the website to the Polish bookmarking engine Wykop. As a result of it the traffic to the site increased drastically as below (data from 4 and 5th of April):

    The original Wykop page contains really positive responses. Maniaks posted:

    “Generally mega useful website, one can realyl easily check what MP’s are up to. Bookmarked.”

    VitQ aded:

    “O_o really?!… Maybe it’s time for democracy to work? Man (meaning the one behind the site), this is a brilliant tool!”

    Content of comments proves that users test the features, flag up potential issues (and praise Daniel’s prompt response to those) and look forward to more developments on the site. Team’s reaction?

    “We are even more motivated to work on this further. Thank you!”

  8. KohoVolit.eu last week

    We have posted that the Czech parliament data still needed to be incorporated in the development of scraping process of KohoVolit.eu structure. Jaroslav posted an update yesterday stating that this part of work, mainly the part for the data of Lower House of Czech Parliament is ready now:

    “The updater scraping the data from the Lower house of Parliament of Czech republic and storing them into KohoVolit.eu database structure is ready now. The downloaded and processed information include MPs data (personal data, image, contact information, assistants, office), constituencies, groups (political groups, committees, commissions, etc.), membership of the MPs in those groups and roles they stand. All those data will be updated nightly from the official website of Czech parliament.”

    Now the team will focus on main functionality of WTT site and ensure that the list of office addresses and constituencies associated to the right representatives, as well as contact details of MP’s is complete and ready to use.

  9. Sejmometr.pl last week

    Sejmometr.pl has just introduced search for MP’s based on postal addresses and regions of Poland. It looks like this in practice:

    MP's from region 22, postal address "37-207"

    MP's from Sub-Karpatian Region of Poland

    Here is how the team managed to put this together:

    “In order to make this search happen based on postal addresses we have combined the data from three sources:

    1. „The Registry of Postal Addresses” (Polish Post)
      Database of all postal addresses and regions in Poland.
    2. Using this website (official website of National Voting Committee), we have built a database of regions connected to voting areas.
    3. Using this website (official website of Sejm), we have built a database of MP’s connected to voting areas.”

    Great work!

  10. WriteToThem Slovakia collaboration with SME.sk

    KohoVolit.eu team has also talked to representatives of SME.sk – major news portal in Slovakia. It looks like the news portal is interested in the integration of local WriteToThem clone into the SME.sk website.

    “They are interested in an easy way to immediately write to the politician directly from the article where he is mentioned. We expect to insert the writing form also to their web and create a simple widget for inserting to articles that refers to the form. Thus readers can write to a particular politician directly from the SME portal. More advanced features like search of the best representative to write to or browsing in sent messages marked as public and the respective politicians’ answers will be available only on our main site.”

    As mentioned by Jaroslav in his original post, integration will take place in May, when the Slovak clone of the site will be completed.