What’s Going On In The Labs


Tom has been working on finding some new team members, organizing an event about open corporate identifiers, writing grant proposals, and — fingers crossed! — arranging a grant from Sunlight to get a very cool project’s very cool code open-sourced. More on that soon, he hopes.

Eric has been chugging along on building Sunlight Health, an upcoming iOS/Android app that aims to use open data about hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and more to help people make better local health care decisions.

Luigi conducted a webinar on HTML5 for the online News University. Naturally, an interactive HTML5 version of the presentation is available online. He also prepared an article on WebSockets and EventSource which should be published soon, and has continued work on Datajam.

Upon returning from SXSW, Jeremy released django-mediasync 2.1 which added support for Django 1.3. He has also been working with David on an analytics dashboard project funded by the Knight Foundation. As always, the month has been filled with a slew of improvements to various Sunlight properties including a relaunch of Read the Bill.

James and Michael continued their work on Open States work by writing more scrapers for state legislative data. At PyCon we hosted another Open Government Hackathon and the Open State Project saw quite a few new contributions. Additionally James expanded our bulk data download offerings and Michael changed the Open States Geo lookups to use boundaryservice, a project from our friends at the Chicago Tribune. The speed at which new states are being brought online is increasing and we expect we’ll start turning on 2-3 new states per month.

Andrew has been working on a new scraper for pulling and parsing public comment data from Regulations.gov, as well as implementing the front-facing portions of some new functionality for Influence Explorer.

Ethan has been working on a clustering tool for detecting duplicate comments in federal rule making. The tool will be used by Reporting to find corporate influence in public comments.

Alison has been working on two name-matching tasks, matching politicians with officers of non-profit organizations and White House visitors with lobbyists. She has also been working on streamlining our data update process for Transparency Data and Influence Explorer.

Last week Kaitlin released the housing sector on Subsidyscope and interviewed some candidates for the open position on the Subsidyscope team. She also continues to plug away on new features for the tax expenditure database on Subsidyscope and some internal tools for grants and contracts analysis.

Caitlin has completed the design work for Sunlight Health and is working with Eric to build it out. She continues to work with Kaitlin on the redesign of Subsidyscope.

For the month of March, Chris continued working on wireframes and comps for the House Staff Directory; designed promotional materials for the Advisory Committee on Transparency; created some graphics for an upcoming partnership; made a bunch of presentations for Ellen; and created assorted design elements for other projects, like an icon for the Foreign Lobbying Influence Tracker.

The internet is a scarey place and timball had to deal with that badness for the month of march. First via an ISP switch over and then with a small contained “security” issue on a dev instance when a former consultant’s keyring got hax0red. Otherwise the month of March has been learning and cooking with chef (learning the finer points of ruby has been interesting). He also bought a comically large amount of styrofoam peanuts for an April Fools’ prank.

Aaron added yet another data set to the Reporting Group’s lobbying tracker. We’ve already got a database of foreign lobbying filings, but it’s updated infrequently. This new feature, scheduled to launch this week, will allow users to see Foreign Agent Registration Act filings as soon as they’re posted on the government’s fara.gov. But instead of having to use the government’s search interface, users will be able to see the filings as a stream as they come in. He also continues to work on other Reporting Group projects and on Capitol Words.

Ali has been working on promoting Transparency Camp, creating some design elements for a cool email tool that the Data Commons team has been working on, building small organizing campaign pages, starting to build out the new design for Sunlight Live and teaching CSS classes to the organization.