Feb. 7, 2011 11:00 am

DistrictBuilder: Azavea, Harvard and George Mason professors let you redistrict online

Let the people redistrict the land. Azavea, your friendly Callowhill neighborhood geospatial analysis software development company, announced last week with professors at Harvard and George Mason universities, DistrictBuilder, an open source, web-based redistricting application designed to give the public access to online redistricting tools. The web-based software can be configured to redistrict any state or […]

Let the people redistrict the land.

Azavea, your friendly Callowhill neighborhood geospatial analysis software development company, announced last week with professors at Harvard and George Mason universities, DistrictBuilder, an open source, web-based redistricting application designed to give the public access to online redistricting tools.

The web-based software can be configured to redistrict any state or locality within the United States, and is based on open source technology in order to make it transparent and accessible by a broad audience.

“While the 2010 Census apportionment data results were released in December, in a few weeks’ time the 2010 Census population demographic profile data will be made available,” reads the release [PDF]. “At that point, legislators along with political consultants will start shifting district boundaries according to their own political interests, often at the expense of the interests of the citizens they represent.”

More below.

The release on Azavea’s work with Dr. Michael P. McDonald, Associate Professor at George Mason University and Dr. Micah Altman, Senior Research Scientist at Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science:

The Public Mapping Project’s District Builder is designed to enable greater public participation where redistricting authorities solicit public input or for open government watchdog groups to enable the public to generate redistricting plans for their state and localities. Through an easy-to-use set of map tools, users can select various types of geographies such as blocks, tracts, or counties and assign them to districts. As districts are edited, users can view demographic information, population count and other statistics. They can then save their plans, share them with others, and generate plan summary reports using the HUBARD statistical reporting application,UH a software package developed by Dr. Altman and Dr. McDonald. And because the software is web-based, it can be accessible by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

In 2009, Azavea released “Redistricting the Nation,” using the firm’s CiceroLive API. Azavea has worked in other good government circles, from CommonCause PA to the Committee of Seventy. The group has also released several white papers on the subject.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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