In late September, 2017, we participated in the first Code4PA hackathon in which we were tasked to use open state data to increase transparency and efficiency for public engagement with the government. We came up with Cashflow PA: a web application that maps campaign contributions, expenses, receipts, and debts filed for Pennsylvania state elections. It uses data sets found on Pennsylvania’s open data portal.

Here’s one of the mock-ups we created:

Cashflow PA screenshot

We pitched the app a month later and decided to keep working on it due to the positive response.

Our progress so far

Here are some milestones we’ve already hit.

  • We’ve migrated a ton of data from a disparate collection of data sets over to our own database so that we can whip it into shape and serve it up fast.

  • We’ve implemented test-driven-development to build a sturdy app.

  • We’ve successfully implemented queries that return data to the views. Here’s a shot of the working app on a local server: Cashflow PA semi-working app

Where we’re heading

Timeline: we’re going to roll out an MVP by February 19th and then present the app to the PA Governor’s office and a committee of executives on March 14th.

We have several usability features to roll out for the app’s basic functionality, and we’re also planning to offer some insights into what we’ve found.

Here’s a screencap of our Trello board: Cashflow PA Trello screencap

And once we do get the app running, we have a few ideas for more features:

Insights: We’ve found some interesting and curious aspects of this data, and we’d love to share it in due time.

Pathways for action: We think seeing the data is just the beginning. We’d like the app to also present users with ways to use the data and learn more about their elected officials.

You. Yes, YOU: Ultimately, we’d like to publicize the app and open its development to anyone who’d like to help, and we don’t mean just developers. For now, you can catch us on Twitter: @heyphrig

We’ll have more details on these points as we make further progress. Thanks for reading this, and stay in touch!