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Revision as of 19:15, 23 April 2010 by (Talk) (Core Fields)


Plan and build a universal, free, open, shared and continuously updated database of government jurisdictions/entities, their websites, and over time add elected official contact information.

In the United States there are approximately 30,000 government jurisdictions. There is no official database of the websites tied to each jurisdiction be it a city, school district, or some relatively obscure special district. Business.Gov, an effort of the Small Business Administration, recently released an API with 8,000 or so city and county websites raising interest across many organizations in how to to cover ALL government organizations.

Once collecting and maintaining a directory of all government jurisdiction web addresses and a way to find your jurisdiction by entering a street address or by using a map is addressed, then deepening data collection to elected officials and all government owned or funded websites will be explored.

This initiative is being lead by a non-profit, non-partisan consortium combining the efforts of (link to Who Represents Me idea), The Open Planning Project (link to Who is my government research), and the Sunlight Foundation. A consortium approach is envisioned to involve governments, inter-governmental associations, non-profits, media, online search, and other businesses interested in a sustainable model for gathering and maintaining data for the widest distributed use in the public interest.

This joint effort was launched based on discussions on the CityCamp Exchange and a session at Transparency Camp 2010 (turn audio way up).

Base Data:

Potential sources of data.

  • 2007 Governments Integrated Directory (GID) -
  • Local government entities described:
  • County Governments
  • Municipalities
  • Townships
  • Special District Govts
  • Independent School District Govts
  • Local Dependent School Systems
  • Education Service Agencies
  • State Dependent School Systems

(this appears to be the source data - 2002 & 2007 Data)

Mapping Location to Entities

Municipalities & Townships:

  • Incorporated Places/Census Designated Places

Cartographic Boundary Files

Key Data About Places:

Connecting Government Jurisdictions/Entities to Websites

Core Fields

What are the core fields of data to compile/crowd-source?

  • Government Type
  • Government Name
  • Street Address
  • City
  • County
  • State
  • Zip
  • General Telephone
  • TTD Telephone
  • General E-mail (Web Contact)
  • FIPS Code (is it useful to keep FIPS places that don't have gov't? e.g. towns or unincorporated areas within a county if users want to search by those. allows this)
  • Zipcodes Served (maybe use ext. source for this? commercial or geonames)
  • Long/Lat of main HQ building
  • Geo/Boundaries
  • Primary Website URL
  • If none, Primary Webpage URL (for really small government, often unreliable)
    • Active/Broken
    • Home Page Last Updated Date
    • Web Feeds Available from Home Page

Additional Fields

  • Multi-lingual Main Page(s) - Language, Link
  • Accessibility Validation (508)
  • Organization Twitter Handle: @someting
  • Organization Facebook Fan Page URL:
  • Organization YouTube Account URL:
  • Wikipedia Page About Organization:
  • Wikipedia Page About Placename:
  • Newspaper of Record (where government notices are printed) Name:
  • Newspaper of Record URL:
  • Registered Government Jurisdiction Record "Owner" for direct updating of added fields - ability to request additions from the city clerk for example who has opted-in to feed in site data

  • Giving unrestricted data access to gathered e-mail addresses might render general government inboxes unusable. Possible solution - a partnership hosted U.S. version of model with a unique URL generated in a web contact field. Through you can only contact those (elected officials in their case) governments that serve you. Those wanting to contact governments that do not represent them would need to use current contact methods.

Proposed Officials Fields This section needs work!

  • Public Positions
  • Mayor
  • City Council Member
  • County Board Member
  • Township Board Member
  • Special District Board Member
  • School Board Member
  • Treasurer
  • Tax Collector
  • Auditor-Controller
  • Sheriff
  • Constable
  • District Attorney

Proposed Staff/Quasi-Govt. Head Fields

  • City Secretary
  • City Manager
  • City Public Information Officer
  • City Planning/Development Director
  • City Parks and Recreation Director
  • Police Chief
  • Police Public Information Officer
  • School District Superintendent
  • School District Public Information Officer
  • Chamber President
  • Economic Development Director
  • Council of Neighborhood Association Chair
  • Council of PTA/PTO President
  • County Board Member Chief of Staff
  • County Public Information Officer

Agency Heads


(a) can hCard or other microformat be used or modified to allow political entity websites to post easily parseable information relating to who represents what? (b) what existing spiders can be used to gather data thus posted? (e.g. Yahoo Local supports hCard )


  • There are dozens of "silo" directories of government websites of a certain kind. All of them suffer from the challenge of keeping up-to-date. There are also 50 state government portals, most of whom host manually maintained listing of local government websites.
  • "Submit-it" crowd-sourcing would require an encouragement link from the state and major "silo" government link directories. If they do not use the data, they will not likely link to encourage governments to submit new websites via the service.
  • Technology assisted volunteer crowd-sourcing is another option where we leverage search engines to identify possible websites for government jurisdictions without known (or no longer functioning links) websites/pages and streamline the verification process.

Potential Partners and Collaborators

In the loop so far:

Might be interested:


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