Philadelphia Votes: new city election site offers data, meeting transcripts - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 18, 2013 8:30 am

Philadelphia Votes: new city election site offers data, meeting transcripts

The site is a big change from previous City Commissioners' Offices, which did not publicly post data. Even as recently as December, City Commissioner Stephanie Singer was told to take down meeting transcripts because it would violate a city contract.

City Commissioners Al Schmidt and Stephanie Singer. Photo by Colin Lenton for Philadelphia Magazine.

Updated 9/18/13 9:39 a.m. to provide details on why the transcripts are allowed to be posted and on the topic of an election data API. Updated 9/19/13 1:08 p.m.: Commissioner Stephanie Singer did not propose releasing an API, rather she proposed releasing election data on OpenDataPhilly.

Get election data, City Commissioners’ Office meeting transcripts and more on Philadelphia Votes. It’s the new online headquarters for the City Commissioners’ Office, an elected office that runs city elections.

Visit it here.

The new website’s data features were spearheaded by City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, who has had a longstanding interest in open data.

Before she became a City Commissioner, she used to request election data from the City Commissioners’ office and post it on Philadems.org, an unofficial site for the city’s Democratic party, we reported in July 2012. Last summer, Singer, who was ousted as chairwoman of the office in November 2012launched an election data visualization tool called Analyze the Vote. It’s still live with updated data. Find it here.

The site is a big change from previous City Commissioners’ Offices, which did not publicly post data. Even as recently as December, Singer was told to take down meeting transcripts because it would violate a city contract since the public had to pay a company to get copies of the transcripts, the City Paper reported. The city’s Law Department has since determined that the Commissioners’ Office can indeed post the transcripts online, Singer said.

Next up on the open data checklist is, of course, an API, which would allow developers to use that data more easily in other tools, applications and visualizations. In September 2012, Singer proposed releasing an API and posting election data to OpenDataPhilly, the city’s data library, but Commissioners Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark did not support the proposal, she said. We’ll report back when we hear from the other commissioners.

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