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[liberationtech] DemocracyMap: Help create 1st open data set of government bodies & officials

Yosem Companys companys at
Sat Feb 23 19:21:12 PST 2013

From: Philip Ashlock <phil at>

DemocracyMap is a project to establish universal access to the basic
information about every government body and government official that
represents you. Currently it covers over 100,000 local officials at

I've been working on this side project for a while, but it's just
recently started to pick up some momentum and I think it provides a
great opportunity to engage the brigade. Organizations like Govtrack,
Sunlight and PPF have made major strides to provide universal access
to national and state legislators, but when you start talking about
counties and cities the coverage of open data is much more spotty. The
good news is that much of this data is actually available in aggregate
on a state by state basis, so I've started scraping those data sources
and have already amassed a collection of about 100,000 city officials.
I've stitched these data sources into an API that normalizes the data
across each level of government, but so far there isn't a central data
store, there are just a variety of scrapers on scraperwiki and an
arsenal of supporting APIs like those from Sunlight. I've already
identified most of the data sources for cities provided by each state
and now it's a matter of going through them one by one and encouraging
people to writing new scrapers. I've provided some documentation about
this, but would love any additional feedback about outreach to engage

You can find more information about the project and contributing at:

There's a demo of the output of the normalized API at:

I also wrote up some more background about this project at:

I've started to coordinate more with Sunlight, PPF, MySociety, and
OpenNorth on community building, creating standards, and helping to
establish more tools to help government bodies better publish this
data like MySociety's MapIt, but for now there's just a basic need to
collect as much of the underlying data as possible. I'm also hoping to
provide an interface to crowdsource some of the data collection in a
non-technical, non-scraper way (like a structured wiki) but don't
quite have that set up yet. One thing that would be helpful for
non-technical folks to do would be to identify more data sources and
add them to the wiki page I'm currently using for that. Any state or
city that has a "blue book" or "blue pages" that is not available as
raw data should be cited.

Happy to field any questions and would love any help to spread the
word about this for contributions tomorrow.

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