In today’s world of rapid development, big data and globalisation, transparency amongst local, regional and central governments is essential for well-adjusted and transforming communities.
Open data and open source software play a pivotal role in bringing communities and governments together to surface achievements and problems faced by different parts of the community.
Currently, most open data platforms are catered towards a technical audience for analysis purposes. While these platforms are very powerful and filled with great analytical tools for gaining insights, they are not designed to communicate a cohesive story to the community. Orbica has developed a data visualisation tool utilising open-source technology to engage and inform the community about how their government projects are funded. This allows for an open conversation between the government and citizens.
This data visualisation tool is a web application along with a content management system designed using Geoserver, Postgres/PostGIS, pHp, jQuery, python, leaflet, apache, tomcat and D3. The application allows administrators to input government funding data along with narratives to illustrate expenditures. The application is split into three distinct views- Bubbles, Map and User views. The bubbles view breaks down the funding into various categories and sub categories. The map view breaks down the same data in a geographical context. The user view is targeted at the user level and shows the data relevant to a citizen. All three views seamlessly interact with each other giving the citizen a complete picture of how collected taxes will potentially be allocated. The narrative section of the application provides the expenditure information.
Implementation of this tool has allowed for widening the access of open data and open source technologies to governments and citizens. The maturity and robustness of this application has increased confidence in open source technologies, resulting in other local governments investing and adopting these technologies to tell their stories to their citizens and stakeholders. The low cost and high value approach of free and open source technology has had a great impact in the New Zealand community and continues to get adopted across various organisations.