1. Voting Advice Application from KohoVolit.eu in action

    Michal Skop posted on his blog on blog.aktualne.cz specific example of usage of their voting advice application on KohoVolit.eu. One of the senators, Jiri Dienstbier senior, has passed away (you might have seen it in the Guardian), so now new voting is required and planned for the upcoming weekend. When I asked about it, Veronika explained:

    “These elections are only little, but they are important, because it can quite substantially change the distribution of power in the senate (basically, before it was slightly for the left side of the spectrum (while we have middle-right coalition in government), now it is equal and everybody is waiting who is going to win.”

    If you go to the original post, even without understanding the language you can see the vast amount of reactions, including comments of users who decided to test the site!

    What a great way and timing to showcase the project! Well done!

  2. KohoVolit.eu this week

    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!:)

  3. KohoVolit.eu popular on the local daily news portal

    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:

    Used with Google translation

    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!

  4. KohoVolit.eu team blogging!


    Please join us in welcoming the team of KohoVolit.eu amongst those of us who blog about their projects. Veronika Sumova and Michal Skop have started posting their updates about their work here (parts of blog posts are available in English so do check it out). Their first update is related to something you already know – results of their MP analysis published at the end of 2010. As you can see it has already generated quite a few responses and discussion about the project but also transparency of local MPs.

    The team is currently considering another blog, directly on their website, so I am sure we will here more about it next week.

  5. KohoVolit.eu – “switching from event-like activities to on-going monitoring”


    When I asked Veronika Sumova from KohoVolit.eu about the nature of their Parliament monitoring activities she pointed out that the 2011 will be their year of shifting from event based analysis to on-going monitoring – the change which we are currently supporting. The MP’s analysis available on their site is something they are used to do at the end of each year based on their methodology. That and the ways of promoting the actual site will be used in 2011 in implementation of on-going monitoring. So before we say goodbye to 2010 let’s have the last look at the MP’s analysis – mainly for the sake of all transparency projects working with short term analysis and of course for our own reference.

    Michal Skop has updated us on the scope and methodology of the current MP’s analysis:

    “We have covered only the Czech and Slovak parliaments for now, for this end of the year.
    Index KohoVolit.eu for this year is:
    1/2 – presence (at divisions)
    1/6 – speeches
    1/6 – interpellations
    1/6 – proposals
    (again, computed as “number of MPs worse than the one” – this is because it allows “sum” different values together, like presence and number of speeches)
    We could use it only for the Czech Rep., the Slovak parliamentary website is not working at the moment so well, we were able to extract only the presence and numbers of proposals.

    We treat these analyses as the last “pilot” version before the automated ones (which should include also the Czech Senate, the major cities and EP; but apart of EP, all the others had elections just a month or two ago, it does not make sense to prepare such analyses now).”


    Veronika is in the meantime dealing with promotion:

    “I am now actively working on promoting the Czech data… especially as I have written before specialized and modified ‘packages’ for regional media…

    Response of public: I would say quite high above average, considering czech NGOs, watchdogs especially… Before the parliament elections at both Czech Rep and Slovakia more than 250 000 people tried our VAAs. Of course, until now our activities were always short-term as VAAs before elections or the MPs analysis… with WTT (comprising ideally also some of the features of TheyWorkForYou.com), this is going to change, so also the style of PR will have to change…”

    Michal also added a link to the coverage of their analysis on one of the major Czech new portals here. He also pointed out:

    “We also prepared charts of voting behaviours in the parliaments (during this years):
    I am still looking for the best way how to communicate these to the public…”

    If you have any ideas on how to promote those sites, do let Veronika and Michal know!

    As we enter 2011 we are looking forward to the new ideas and processes of on-going monitoring in both countries.

    Happy New Year!

  6. KohoVolit MP’s analysis – update on data collection and analysis


    When I posted about the MP’s analysis conducted in 2009 by KohoVolit.eu, I promised more information about their Index and data collection. Michal Skop is the person responsible for this part of the project. First of all I have asked him about the methodology of the KohoVolit Index itself:

    “It is changing – because we constantly improve it. The last year it was (a bit simplified): average of the numbers of MPs that were less active than the MP (in one of the measured things – interpellations, speeches, votes (presence), proposals). For example: MP X voted always and therefore s/he was better than all the other 199 MPs (who missed some). We add 199. The MP X has not proposed anything, had no interpellation and did not speak, but all the others have done it. So we count 3 times (interpellations, proposals, speeches) 0 (=no MP was worse than this X). We make average: (199+0+0+0)/4 = 49.25 (It was a bit more complicated, but generally we did it this way.)
    I plan to change it for this end of the year and put more weight into “presence (to vote)”.

    When asked about the data collection process, Michal responded:

    “I use the scrapers I have done. So for “presence” I have all the divisions downloaded and processed, so I just run the query to count it. For the rest, there are a particular pages for each MP at the official website (like this one here, which is a list “reporter of proposals”) and we scrape them and just count it all.”

    The new analysis is up from what I can see, so we should be able to provide you with more insights into this year’s methodology fairly soon.