Follow this Twitter bot to see where the city spends money - Technical.ly Philly

Civic

Nov. 25, 2015 10:14 am

Follow this Twitter bot to see where the city spends money

Civic hacker Nick Weingartner hopes to make an overlooked dataset more accessible via Twitter.

Civic hacker Nick Weingartner.

(Courtesy photo)

Nick Weingartner wants to offer a picture of city spending, one tweet at a time.

Meet Twitter bot @FiscalPhilly.

Twice a day, the bot tweets spending from the city’s commodity data, released earlier this year. That’s spending on services and supplies, or “paperclips, parks and fire engines,” as its known in city parlance. It’s tweeting the data in order, sorted by bid number, Weingartner said.

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It’s his attempt at making city procurement digestible.

“Through a medium like Twitter, it should be accessible enough that my mom can see one of these tweets and see immediately understand the value in the information,” he wrote in an email, noting how Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski said he wanted to make city data accessible for all, not just the tech-savvy.

We also think the city’s tech procurement advocate Todd Baylson, who’s working to increase transparency around procurement and get more Philly firms working with the city, would like the bot a whole lot.

Weingartner, 26, of Fishtown, leads an engineering team at the Callowhill office of Thomson Reuters. He worked with Alexa Weingartner and Ben Novack at civic hacking group Code for Philly on the project, plus Nate Smith of CloudMine.

He hopes the project will also bring attention to the kinds of data the city is releasing.

“It’s a really special thing that the city is doing with releasing all that data to the public,” he wrote. “The trick now is to get as many civic-minded developers out there to make that data accessible to the general public.”

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