Author: Alice Murphy

Data Challenge Spotlight: WhyGDP?

WhyGDP?

“Data Challenge Spotlight” is a collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship and GovFresh that highlights winners of the 2012 Civic Data Challenge. Follow the Civic Data Challenge on Twitter (@CivicData) and on Facebook.

What?

WhyGDP? by Will Dekrey and Sean McDonald.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

We’re told American success equals economic growth. The data tells a different story: GDP doesn’t predict better lives, but civic measures do.

What problem does WhyGDP? solve for government and/or your community?

We created WhyGDP? to tell the story of an America paradigm (“Success = GDP”) that may not be able to deliver on its promises. The paradigms that a society holds (i.e, the pervasive, shared but often unstated assumptions) define the lanes of progress for systems, institutions and individuals in that society.

As Emerson eloquently wrote:

“Every nation and every man instantly surround themselves with a material apparatus which exactly corresponds to … their state of thought.  Observe how every truth and every error, each a thought of some man’s mind, clothes itself with societies, houses, cities, language, ceremonies, newspapers.  Observe the ideas of the present day … see how timber, brick, lime, and stone have flown into convenient shape, obedient to the master idea reigning in the minds of many persons … It follows, of course, that the least enlargement of ideas … would cause the most striking changes of external things.”

Changing paradigms is hard but not impossible. Pioneering systems theorist Donella Meadows, instructs would-be paradigm shifters to “keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm … keep speaking and acting, loudly and with assurance, from the new one.”

Republicans, Democrats and pundits feed the paradigm that success for America is inextricably tied to economic growth. WhyGDP? elevates examples of data sets that demonstrate areas where this paradigm is not serving us well — the data suggest that civic engagement measures are better predictors of happy, healthy individuals and communities than are measures of GDP growth.

WhyGDP? is a simple story meant to empower citizens of all walks of life to point out the anomalies of the “Success = GDP” paradigm in conversations about politics, the economy and their community. They can share the site itself via social networks and email, but we also hope they will bring a new line of thinking into discussions with friends and family. They can use WhyGDP? to ask critical and productive questions: “What does success look like for the United States of America?” and “To what long-term goals do we want to hold our government accountable and what short term metrics will we use to judge progress?”

What does having government collect civic data mean to you?

The more data we have, the better we will be able to understand how well our politicians and our policies are leading us towards a happier and healthier future. To continue our dedication — as Lincoln described it — to “the great task remaining before us … [of building a] government of the people, by the people and for the people,” we must have data to understand who we “the people” are, how we’re doing, and how well our government is serving our best interests.

What tools did you use?

WhyGDP? is a story with data at its core.

The story was built using the JavaScript impress.js library, which creates a 3D “story slider” environment similar to a Prezi presentation.

The data was aggregated and cleaned up in Excel and then imported into Tableau Public for analysis.

How can those interested connect with you?

You can find Will at @dekrey and about.me/willdekrey. You can find Sean at @sean_mcdonald and http://www.sociographic.net/.

Data Challenge Spotlight: Visualizing Health Reform

Illinois Health Matters

“Data Challenge Spotlight” is a collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship and GovFresh that highlights winners of the 2012 Civic Data Challenge. Follow the Civic Data Challenge on Twitter (@CivicData) and on Facebook.

What?

Visualizing Health Reform from Illinois Health Matters

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

We are the go-to source for factual, easy-to-understand information on health care reform in Illinois.

What problem does Visualizing Health Reform solve for government and/or your community?

While a handful of reputable sites and media outlets examine health policy on a national/state level, very few do it on a community level. Our mapping tool takes complex public policy and translates it to real people.

What’s the story or inspiration behind creating Visualizing Health Reform?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, is complex. We wanted to make it easy to see the ways in which Illinois residents will be impacted by the new health reform law so that businesses, health care providers and community groups can prepare.

What are its key features?

An interactive heat map of Illinois provides information on who is uninsured, where they live, and the impact of health reform on their ability to attain health care coverage in 2014. Data can be examined on three levels—state, regions and community. The tool is versatile – it can also be viewed “on the go” on a smartphone or tablet and PDF versions of the maps can be downloaded.

How can those interested connect with you?

Connect with Illinois Health Matters on our website at www.illinoishealthmatters.org, Twitter (@ILHealthMatters), Facebook (facebook.com/IllinoisHealthMatters) or email info@illinoishealthmatters.org for specific data and customized reports on health care reform.

Data Challenge Spotlight: The Art of Community Wellness

The Art of Community Wellness

“Data Challenge Spotlight” is a collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship and GovFresh that highlights winners of the 2012 Civic Data Challenge. Follow the Civic Data Challenge on Twitter (@CivicData) and on Facebook.

What

The Art of Community Wellness

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Our video uses civic health data to demonstrate the importance of arts education to communities, civic involvement and overall wellbeing.

What problem does “The Art of Community Wellness” solve for government and/or your community?

Arts education and its connection to community health touch on a variety of civic concerns. We see our video being particularly useful for those who instruct, organize, and fund educational programs for children. The video raises awareness not only of the importance of arts education for the future, but of the role it already plays in the world around us. We hope that it will prove a catalyst for broader public appreciation of the importance of the arts as part of a well-rounded citizenry.

What does having government collect civic data mean to you? 

Civic data is critically important for helping all of us understand how we’re engaging with our communities and our government. That knowledge (or lack of it) loops back into decisions about commerce, infrastructure, education, and lots of other areas that affect us on a daily basis. But sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re looking for and how to make sense of it. That’s what our project was all about: asking a meaningful question, exploring the data, understanding the story behind the numbers, and then telling that story in an accessible way. We found that it really takes people from all kinds of backgrounds – not just data scientists and not just storytellers – to make that happen.

How can those interested connect with you?

All team members are employees of Razorfish Healthware in Philadelphia. We’re on Facebook at facebook.com/RazorfishHealthware and Twitter (@PHI_Global). If you’d like to get in touch directly, send an email to erin.abler@razorfishhealth.com.

Video

Data Challenge Spotlight: Politify

Politify founders Nikita Bier and Jeremy Blalock.

Politify founders Nikita Bier and Jeremy Blalock.

“Data Challenge Spotlight” is a collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship and GovFresh that highlights winners of the 2012 Civic Data Challenge. Follow the Civic Data Challenge on Twitter (@CivicData) and on Facebook.

What

Politify

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Politify simulates of the financial impacts of the plans proposed by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

What problem does Politify solve for government and/or your community?

Politify allows voters to better understand the policies at hand through personalized reports, allowing them to make more informed decisions at the polling booth.

What are its key features?

Politify itemizes the costs & benefits of each particular policy using interactive HTML5 visualizations — so you know the direct impact of a policy to your household. We also built a geographic heatmap so you can see the best candidate for your community.

How can those interested connect with you?

Interested parties can reach Politify at questions@politify.com or by visiting our website at www.politify.com. We’re also on Twitter (@politify) and Facebook (facebook.com/politify).

Screenshots

Politify

Politify