Open Tartu (for smart citizens)
This a project that was pitched at Garage48 Open & Big Data Hackathon in Tartu October 21st to 23rd 2016 and received a second runner-up prize and special pass to Latitude59. We have also submitted our project at Ajujaht competition under social entrepreneurship category, where we got into second round, but were not chosen to be among final 30. However, we had better luck it Ultrahack yearly tournament in Finland November 25th to 27th 2016, where our side project 2min4city got into finals and was one of three best projects on #hackthenation track. You can read about our experience on Open Knowledege blog.
In a nutshell
We scrape information from Tartu City document registry and present it in a usable manner for citizens as well as city officials. This is already a lot, but as a special feature we give citizens an opportunity to participate in the decision process, commenting on documents and meetings in various phases and give a feedback vote on the results. It's a digital tool to make democracy great again and although we built it specially for Tartu, you can use it in any city or municipality with similar organizational structure.
Or see our final presentation at Garage48 hackathon (starts ~52:15).
Current pitch for general interest
Ever tried to get information about what your local municipality does in your district? Bumped into piles of documents in small letters full of legal gibberish and stopped after hours of digging, realizing you'd better call your local community activist to take five minute look and tell you what's it all about?
We have an alternative solution for you now!
We let our helpful robots dig into document registry of your local municipality and visualize the decision process for you to make sense at first glance.
We provide you with personalized view of document flow based on your place of residence.
We show you in what department was the process started, what commissions and institutions the document has passed, what changes have been made to it and what is its current status as well as predictable path in the future.
We add special tags about persons responsible, topics involved, money at stake or legal paragraphs referred to in those documents to make it easier to grasp at once.
We provide you with statistics, infographics, word clouds and meaningful search engine powered by our helpful robots with natural language processing skills.
We let you ask questions and post comments about the things passing the corridors of power, never mind about sharing your experience in your favorite social network.
And as a true reality check for the people responsible for the future of your municipality — we even let you vote on the very same issues that your local government and council votes on.
This is an e-democracy tool specially designed for use in local governments that empowers both the citizens as well as people working at municipal offices.
We start from Tartu, the most advanced city in Estonia when it comes to open government. Tartu was the first city to experiment with citizen budget. Tartu is the only city having hosted an open governance committee, that agreed on the special plan of action already in 2014. Tartu has promised to be the pioneer of smart city solutions as well as open data.
We make full use of Estonian digital infrastructure, apply the principles of open data, make use of best practices and emerging international standards in formalizing municipal decision processes and build a true e-democracy system for 21st century.
We will make Tartu a role model for the rest of the world: an open city for smart citizens.
And what will happen in Tartu will not stay in Tartu, we can tell you that for sure!
Tartu is presenting itself as a Smart City, but unfortunately it's not very Open City. There is no Open Data directory in Tartu1, but there is still some data that can be scraped. Document registry provides data about meetings, protocols, drafts for municipal acts and votes about them in commissions, government and council etc. They are provided with some metadata of varying quality, but with some effort it can be rendered quite usable.
We can make a case for Open Tartu with:
Converting the scraped documents to one of the standard formats used to present documents produced in decision processes and link them to roles and phases of decision process, highlight the amounts of money and political parties involved etc;
Displaying parts of process visually in order to avoid headache from reading too much bureaucratic gibberish and make it easy to grasp what's going on in city, use different criteria for displaying the information, different levels of zoom, word clouds etc;
Showcasing an e-democracy portal to comment on the documents in different phases and give citizens ability to vote on the same topics city government, commissions and council does vote on.
This is something that the city could do and even has admitted, that should be done2, but won't do if not given an example of how this kind of Open Tartu would look like in practise.
Technology without openness leads to technological totalitarianism. This is our opportunity to stop Smart City of Tartu from turning into nightmare of technocratic control and digivolve it into a Smart and Open City of Tartu and make it the flagship of Open Governance and e-Democracy in Estonia (not to mention that if this actually works, this will be international news).