We previously wrote about welcoming the Sunlight Foundation’s Open States team to work with us in Montreal. Open States tracks the legislators, committees, bills, votes and legislative events in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico and makes this data available via an API and bulk downloads for other groups to reuse.
Over the past week, Open North worked with Sunlight Labs developers James Turk, Paul Tagliamonte and Thom Neale, as well as Michael Mulley of OpenParliament.ca, to set up a Canadian version of Open States. Working together, we were able to adapt Open States to Canada’s parliamentary system and bilingual nature and to integrate information on speeches, which are of particular relevance in Canada – in addition to collecting information from several provinces.
Open 13 fits into our strategy of making participation easier by improving access to information. We hope to make Open 13 a useful tool for Canadians to monitor and understand provincial and territorial legislatures. The goal of the project is for it to be an educational, political, and community resource that helps us all be more involved in the decision-making processes of government.
In the US, elected officials use the Open States app to track legislative activity; teachers design civics curriculums around the Open States website; and newspapers, policy institutes and nonprofits use it to keep tabs on legislation of interest. We are thankful for the support and leadership of the Sunlight Foundation on this project, and we hope to reproduce the same level of impact it has had.
If you are interested in learning more about Open States, visit their website or follow them on Twitter. In the coming months, Open North will look to secure funding to complete the project, but we already have a running start. Stay tuned for more updates about the launch on Open 13.