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Tag Archive: government transparency

OpenGov Voices: Transparency with Arlington Visual Budget

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Alan Jones Roger Zhu

This OpenGov Voices guest post was written by Alan H. Jones and Roger Zhu. Alan and Roger worked on a financial data visualization project for the town of Arlington, MA. Alan is a Vice-Chairman of Arlington’s Finance Committee in Arlington, MA and has spent the last 12 years helping organizations and individuals make effective use of information technology. You can read more of his work here. Roger is an improvisational engineer, industrial designer and interaction designer. He is a designer with Involution Studios.

See (and interact with) your town's budget: exploring the next generation of accessibility in financial information.

Government budgets can be tough to understand, but now the town of Arlington, Massachusetts is providing the next generation of accessibility in financial information that allows citizens to see, engage and discuss.

See:

The Arlington Visual Budget is an interactive web-based application that holds all the town’s financial budget information from 2008 to 2018. The data was broken down into three sections: revenues, expense and funds. In each section, you can drill down to see each government department’s total spending including percentage of totals compared to last year and what that data means.

On the right side of the data is a treemap (below) with interactive color populated by data in real time. The map below illustrates the impact of a particular revenue or expenditure compared to the whole budget and how that budget has changed over time.

All the data comes directly from Arlington town’s financial office where we used current technology to build a pipeline that converts files created in Microsoft Excel to JSON -- a lightweight data-interchange format used for computation within the site.

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Creating Tools for Civic Engagement and providing a home for activists and hacktivists

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Tom Tresser is the Chief Tool Builder at the CivicLab. He teaches civic engagement, public policy and creativity at several local universities. In 2009 he was a co-leader of the No Games Chicago campaign and in 2010 he was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to connect with activists, practitioners of civic engagement, inventors and artists interested in social change? A place that is a combination of a lab, a lounge, a theater, a clubhouse and a school for social change. In Chicago there isn’t one that combines all this in a storefront space with a grassroots vibe that invites people to walk in and connect. A gang of like-minded civic scientists and makers are well into the process of designing and launching one! The CivicLab will be civic maker space. Think of Pumping Station One meets FreeGeek meets 1871 meets the Knitting Factory with a dash of open source tool making and the Little Red School House plus CommuniTeach. Chicago is the home of modern community organizing and has also been a hotspot of innovation and research. We want to be a meeting space where old school organizers and educators can meet with new school technologists and designers to do research, teach civics, and build tools that accelerate social change and community improvement efforts.

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