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Revision as of 00:26, 2 April 2010 by Admin (Talk | contribs)

Overview: Plan to build a free, universal, open, shared database of government jurisdictions/entities and overtime elected officials.

In the United States there are approxiately 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 in how to extend that to ALL government organizations.

The first milestone

There is also

New Online Working Group:

Research and Resources on this effort:

Sunlight Labs wiki page:

Base 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
  • Goverment Name
  • Street Address
  • City
  • County
  • State
  • Zip
  • General Telephone
  •  ?Contact Web Page/E-mail
  • 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

Bonus idea?

  • 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 Governnment 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 unresticted 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

  • Public Positions (these seem very county specific)
  • Mayor
  • City Council Member
  • County Board Member
  • Township Board Member
  • Special District Board Member
  • School Board Member
  • Treasurer
  • Tax Collector
  • Auditor-Controller
  • Sheriff
  • District Attorney

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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