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OpenGov Voices: Creating an Early Warning System for Political Activism

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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.Adam Green

Adam Green is the CTO of UniteBlue.com -- a social network for progressives based on Twitter. UniteBlue connects and organizes political activists on a national and state level. You can reach. Adam at adam@uniteblue.com.

One of the great challenges for political activism in each of the 50 state legislatures is providing timely information on bills as they move through the legislative process. The data provided by the Sunlight Foundation Open States API is comprehensive, but combing through it to find the limited number of bills that activists have the time to focus on can be overwhelming. I have found over 88,000 bills in the current session alone. We are now developing an early warning system at UniteBlue.com that can assist our volunteers in filtering this information flow down to a manageable level.

While the entire process will take months to complete, in this guest post I’d like to propose a triage model that can be used as a first step. Triage is the medical model used in hospital emergency rooms and during disaster responses. A high flow of patients is screened using certain “signatures” to determine which ones need to be seen first, such as blocked airways or dangerous vital signs. The process of triaging the high flow of bills coming from the Sunlight data will follow a similar model.

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