OttWatch.ca is a governance portal that pulls together data from Ottawa.ca into one centralized view. Its purpose is to lower the barrier to entry for residents to influence the decisions our elected representatives make.
Council and Committee agendas are scraped for their details and presented in a more accessible format. OttWatch facilitates public delegations by providing one-click access to the committee coordinator, as well as direct email access to the committee members.
The Lobbyist registry is monitored for new activity, and is made more intuitive. Residents can review lobbying activity from four perspectives: the lobbyist, their clients, a particular "lobbying file", or who in the city is being lobbied.
The Development Application data on ottawa.ca is collected automatically and presented as a single Google map, with default focus on recently updated applications. This makes it easier for residents to find new applications that may interest them, but which are not easy to find in the default search engine provided by Ottawa.ca
Tweets are made as new events are detected. Residents can follow @OttWatch and receive instant notification, so they never miss an important development.
To aid other competitors, a JSON REST api has been created. Full documentation of the API is available here: http://ottwatch.ca/api/about
Additional features will be added throughout the competition period.
The full source code for OttWatch is available on GitHub. Portions of it should be compatible with any "SIREpub" installation. https://github.com/kevinodotnet/ottwatch
OpenData sources used
The "elected officials, 2010-2014" is used to provide contact information to residents. It is also used to help detect references to councillors within meeting documents.
The "wards_2010" dataset is used to map points and addresses to their respective wards. This allows mapping a lat/lon point to ward and Councillor information.
The "roadways" dataset is used to map addresses to their ward, and also provide REST/AJAX access to mapping coordinates.
Full API documentation is available here: http://ottwatch.ca/api/about
The value it provides to residents
Ottawa provides a lot of governance information on Ottawa.ca, but it is not easy to find.
OttWatch's goal is to make this information easier to find and also to facilitate feedback from residents to councillors before important decisions are made.
I think it's a fantastic idea.