We have posted earlier on about eDemocracy Day planned in Prague. Veronika has just updated us that the event was really successful. 25 projects from Czech Repubik, Slovakia and Poland were presented during the day. There was also scope for collaboration and additional questions. As posted a second ago on our blog – Jaroslav presented newly prepared API and discussed it with representatives other teams, who have similar plans.
Veronika promised photo documentation, in the meantime posting the topics of the event:
“The main topics were: Parliament watchdogging, Public procurement, Project sustainability, Data sharing and API, and Watchdog and Media.”
We are really keep to hear more about it, so let’s hope we will have more information soon.
Jaroslav Semancik has updated KohoVolit.eu blog with information on their API:
“We have now API working and providing access to database for our applications as well as for other sites interested in our data. Some optimizations and documentation of the code are needed yet.”
Those recent developments within the project have been presented on the regional arena too:
“I presented the API on our eDemocracy Day that was held yesterday. An interesting finding was that most of the projects are going to provide some API or thinking about it. We may have provided some inspiration how to do it.”
Really good to see that their work is a potential source of inspiration to others! Great news!
Late last night Jaroslav has posted an update on the work of KohoVolit.eu team last week. It looks like they faced a new challenge related to historical data in their system:
“There is a whole field called temporal databases in the database theory about representing data varying in time with full history not only the current state.”
According to Jaroslav translations and free attributes used by the team, together with changes in MP’s data and requests became a new challenge:
“The main issue of this week was search for a reasonable trade-of between complexity of the database and comfort in access to the history. And how to put all things together. As a result I significantly altered the schema again. I believe it suits to our needs fine now. Besides, it was an interesting trip to PostgreSQL 9 features and learning how to fully exploit its capabilities.”
Veronika is away this week, and it looks like Jaroslav has been absent for a few days too, but did post today about the developments in API and WTT work:
“Some issues of the database model were redesigned. Ability to store changes in data in time was added. This was merged with the way in which translations and free attributes of the entities are represented. As a result a lot of tables could be removed.”
“Testing of the API architecture and writing individual API functions to access database entities (MPs, groups, constituencies, etc.) continues.”
Great stuff, Jaroslav, thank you for the post!:)
It’s a very impressive list of supporting organisations! What is this all about? Veronika Sumova has posted on KohoVolit.eu blog an update about the local event dedicated to government transparency planned for the 12th of March. eDemocracy Day in Prague is designed to discuss the current eDemocracy and eParticipation projects, their current developments but also to share challenges and learnings, and do a bit of networking too. The event will follow unconference model allowing its participants to suggest topic for 2 slots of 2 hr long sessions (with additional 3 hrs in the evening, if required). It’s free, and from what I understand there is also a scope for a little bit of support for those, who might struggle with travel expenses. Veronika explained to me that actually the first two sessions are already suggested:
1. parliament watchdog – what does it mean, how to do it?
2. sustainability of watchdog projects – money, people, projects
It looks like it’s going to be a very fruitful event – apart from the KohoVolit.eu team I can see participants representing DoTankoch.sk, Foaf.sk, Fair Play Alliance, NašiPolitici.cz and Diary Policy. Really impressive set of projects. I hope we will be able to learn about each of them more!
KohoVolit.eu team has posted three times this week, which is really great – the more posts, the better! Today we have learned more about the developments from this week. According to Jaroslav their database of MP’s is almost ready – and all they need to ad now is documentation:
“The database represents constituency areas as simple inclusion and exclusion of administrative areas. Employing Google Maps API to translate the typed address to administrative areas it is located in, we have a very elegant way of finding the appropriate representative without necessity of a database of all addresses and their respective representative. Besides to be rather huge, such database is not publicly available. I guess, that approach will be really useful for WTT in other countries as well.”
The team is currently finishing work and will need create the documentation of the API for accessing the database:
“It was more labor to properly comply with the RESTful principle than expected, but it is worth of the effort to use an existing standard rather than inventing a new one. REST (here) utilizes the standard means of the HTTP protocol for the API requests, responses and error handling. The API is not only for other websites interested in our data but it provides the layer the WTT application as well as our other projects will access the database through.”
Really great to have these insights! Keep them coming!:)
Veronika Sumova has posted a quick update this week about Michal’s recent post published on blog.aktualne.centrum.cz – local news portal. It looks like his post has been rated as number one on the site based on its popularity.
“Michal is giving tips on how to get the right information… the graph simply consists of several different cities in the region – how much money they give to sport activities in each city. So there is no calcuation, it is just putting the numbers from those cities in the descending order. The problem is that majority of them (8 of 10) don’t have these info on their own site, so for ordinary citizen is hard to get to the data. So further on he is giving tips how to ask for it correctly according the law on information to which the townhalls are obligated to respond and provide the information.”
Here is the original graph:
Michal includes an example copy of a request message within his post making it really easy for any reader to copy it and send off to their local institution. The post has generated quite a long discussion and reached 12,643 views within 6 days, which in the region counts as very popular!
Do you think it is worth using simple examples of processes used within your projects on public spaces to promote your work? Can this approach be a way of increasing civic engagement? I would love to hear your thoughts!
This week KohoVolit.eu team has received the approval of funds from Batory Fundation within the framework of Civic Coalition Program for co-operation planned with another local portal, NasiPolitici.cz [‘Our politicians’]. Veronika Sumova explaings:
“The biggest goal and challenge of this web-based NGO is to bring objective, complete and accurate information about elected representatives. They do it through complex CVs published on their website which contain information such as education, political parties membership (historical and actual), candidatures, elective offices (historical and actual), proffessional career, commercial ownership or membership in different advisory boards.”
The two teams work together already when profiling the MP’s (their activities and votings), but there is more in the pipeline:
“Later on, after Czech WTT launch, we hope in further cooperation within this application as well, probably through widgets or some other means. Lastly, somewhen in the summer we want to use short CVs from NasiPolitici to upgrade our own site and to move it slowly towards what in the end should look like TheyWorkForYou…”
We will learn more details about this cooperation shortly, so stay tuned!
“The election system to Czech parliament is weird… quasi local based, quazi party based combines regional and state-wide components.
Basically people vote mostly for parties and their leaders, but they can vote only for candidates in their region. So when they hypotethically want to write to specific MP, they might want to write to one of their regional MPs because they are probably closest to the problem they are dealing with. But they might also want to write to one of the ‘faces’ of the political party, because it was actually him/her they voted for even though not directly. Or they might want to write specific committee (defence, finance, education etc.) even though there is not anyone from their region…”
Facing the above mentioned challenge the team has decided upon the following:
“For identifying the region, we decided to use Google maps and the API they provide. This means that when person enters even very incomplete adress we get information about which region or which part of the city it is in. If anyone has interesting experiences with this and want to share, please do:-)
But the really tricky part comes when discussing when (which step) and where (graphically) put the option for so to say ‘advanced search’ according to parties or committees, so it’s not disturbing those that want to use regional key and it’s easy to find for those that prefer other ways of identifying… comments are welcome:-)”
Yes, do let us know what you think is the best way forward or get in touch with the team directly on their blog.
This time a quick update on work of KohoVolit.eu, in Jaroslav’s words:
“I am designing and implementing API in these days – it is an interface that will make all our data accessible to other sites. Our applications will access the database by this way as well. A pilot implementation of API is expected in a couple of days.
Concerning WTT – while waiting for Lithuanian beta to be refactored and internationalisation ready, we discussed the first step of writing to MPs – “find your representatives” for our countries with Michal. We are going to utilize Google Maps API for turning the (maybe incomplete) addresses given by users to the respective administrative regions that MPs are responsible for. This helps to save us from building a huge database of all addresses in our countries.”
If you have any tips or thoughts on that, do let us know!