Open Data and Municipal Election Results

As local readers will know, I created an election results dashboard for the municipal election that took place in Edmonton on October 18, made possible thanks to the City of Edmonton’s open data. I’d say it was very well-received! There was lots of positive feedback, and it resulted in the highest-trafficked day ever for ShareEdmonton. There were also hundreds of tweets about the dashboard, including some from people in other cities.

I was able to update the dashboard on-the-fly that night, fixing the graph colors and other issues as they were identified. Overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out, though I wish I had been able to add a few more features in time for the big event. Over the last couple days, I decided to extract the dashboard from ShareEdmonton and I have now added that new functionality. Specifically, the page updates automatically (no more refreshing) and there’s a mobile view as well, so it looks decent on your mobile device.

New Dashboards

Today is election day in Ontario, and thanks to open data from Toronto, Ottawa, and London, I was able to launch three new election results dashboards, all featuring the latest improvements:

Some new issues have appeared that I didn’t have to worry about in the Edmonton election (for example, there are 40 candidates for mayor in Toronto, so having them all appear on the graph is difficult at best) but the sites all seem to be running smoothly. I guess we’ll find out at 8 PM EST tonight when the results start to come in!

Open Data

All of these dashboards were made possible because the cities made election results data available, so kudos to each of them for doing so. The tricky thing for a developer like me is that all four cities (Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and London) made the results available in a different format!

  • Edmonton – XML/JSON using OGDI
  • Toronto – plaintext, pipe-separated
  • Ottawa – plaintext, HTML scrape, kind of a pseudo-CSV
  • London – XML

Fortunately, when I had created the dashboard for Edmonton, I had built in a translation-layer. So instead of loading directly from the City’s catalogue into ShareEdmonton, I loaded it first into an internal format. So to get the dashboard working with the other cities, all I had to do was write that translation piece, from their catalogue to my internal format. As you can see, that strategy has worked fairly well (Ottawa was by far the most difficult, and did not provide me with enough information to calculate voter turnout, so that was removed from the ShareOttawa dashboard).

I’m not complaining about the need for this translation layer. I would much rather have a city make its data available than delay just to try to find a common format. But I do hope to see convergence over time. It would be great if these cities (and others that offer this data, like Vancouver) could agree on a common format. That would remove the extra work required to make an application reusable, and would hopefully result in even more applications that make use of the data.

And Beyond!

I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of open data, especially as it relates to politics and democracy. There are some really great apps being built, such as Vote.ca, and we’re really just scratching the surface. If we keep at it, I’m confident that open data will have a positive impact on the way we engage with politics.

State of the Ottawa Twittersphere – March 2010

Welcome to the third State of the Ottawa Twittersphere, my look at the intersection of Twitter and Ottawa, ON. You can see last month’s stats here.

For information on the data, definitions, and other background, click here.

For March 2010:

# of local users: 10785 (an increase of 1419 from February)
# of tweets by local users: 539860
# of tweets by local users containing #ottawa/#yow: 4457 (0.8%)
# of tweets by local users that were replies: 189236 (35.1%)
# of tweets by local users containing links: 153778 (28.4%)
# of tweets by local users that were retweets: 29274 (5.4%)
# of tweets by local users that were twooshes: 16791 (3.1%)

Here are the numbers above in graphic form:

Here are the top clients used by local users for posting updates:

Some other interesting stats for the month:

  • Just over 51% of all local tweets were posted between 9 AM and 5 PM.
  • Local users posted roughly 12.1 tweets per minute in March (compared to 11.2 tweets per minute in February).
  • The day with the most local tweets posted was March 23 at 20898. On average, 17415 local tweets were posted each day (compared to 16150 in February).
  • Of the 189236 replies posted by local users this month, 58286 or 30.8% were to other local users.
  • A total of 1981 users posted 50 times or more in January. In comparison, 1710 users posted just once.

Here are the top ten most followed local users:

  1. pmharper
  2. campbed
  3. billbateswins
  4. Jason_OToole
  5. ErinBlaskie
  6. BlackBerryCool
  7. phdinparenting
  8. snookca
  9. knealemann
  10. Demi_LovatoFans

Here are the top ten most listed local users:

  1. snookca
  2. CharlesCrosbie
  3. pmharper
  4. BlackBerryCool
  5. Demi_LovatoFans
  6. michaelgeist
  7. surinderJsingh
  8. michelfortin
  9. plevy
  10. CloutMarketing

Here are the top ten most active local users:

  1. GAMING_LOUNGE
  2. ottawa_crime
  3. TopiaGreenStop
  4. DJNOODLES2
  5. MrsLoulou
  6. melissa_allstar
  7. bitofmomsense
  8. Favwa
  9. rebecera
  10. whoreformusic

Here are the top ten most replied to local users:

  1. all_caps
  2. bitofmomsense
  3. JenButson
  4. gordbot
  5. leslielscott
  6. justinvl
  7. MrsLoulou
  8. see_jane_sell
  9. snobiwan
  10. MissHelveticaB

Final Thoughts

First off, apologies for the late stats this month. I think the increased numbers in March reflect three more days in the month than we had in February, but also some steady growth (and perhaps some modifications I made to my code). More than 12,000 tweets were posted each day in March. The percentage of tagged tweets, while still small relative to other cities, did increase a little.

State of the Ottawa Twittersphere – February 2010

Welcome to the second State of the Ottawa Twittersphere, my look at the intersection of Twitter and Ottawa, ON. You can see last month’s stats here.

For information on the data, definitions, and other background, click here.

For February 2010:

# of local users: 9366 (an increase of 804 from January)
# of tweets by local users: 452190
# of tweets by local users containing #ottawa/#yow: 2719 (0.6%)
# of tweets by local users that were replies: 161654 (35.7%)
# of tweets by local users containing links: 109478 (24.2%)
# of tweets by local users that were retweets: 25947 (5.7%)
# of tweets by local users that were twooshes: 13205 (2.9%)

Here are the numbers above in graphic form:

Here are the top clients used by local users for posting updates:

Some other interesting stats for the month:

  • Just under 50% of all local tweets were posted between 9 AM and 5 PM.
  • Local users posted roughly 11.2 tweets per minute in February (compared to 9.6 tweets per minute in January).
  • The day with the most local tweets posted was February 28 at 23063. On average, 16150 local tweets were posted each day (compared to 13750 in January).
  • Of the 161654 replies posted by local users this month, 45323 or 28.0% were to other local users.
  • A total of 1732 users posted 50 times or more in January. In comparison, 1461 users posted just once.

Here are the top ten most followed local users:

  1. pmharper
  2. campbed
  3. billbateswins
  4. Jason_OToole
  5. ErinBlaskie
  6. BlackBerryCool
  7. snookca
  8. knealemann
  9. phdinparenting
  10. MattMossop

Here are the top ten most listed local users:

  1. CloutMarketing
  2. egs
  3. michaelgeist
  4. NHL_Sens
  5. knealemann
  6. OttawaCitizen
  7. stephen_taylor
  8. kady
  9. justinmenard
  10. iancapstick

Here are the top ten most active local users:

  1. whoreformusic
  2. CRAcorruption
  3. wickedcanadagal
  4. bitofmomsense
  5. michelleinglis
  6. kellidaisy
  7. ice89
  8. melissa_allstar
  9. davidpcurrie
  10. OttawaCitizen

Here are the top ten most replied to local users:

  1. all_caps
  2. gordbot
  3. bitofmomsense
  4. snobiwan
  5. kellidaisy
  6. refashionista
  7. JenButson
  8. fleur_de_lotus
  9. CandaceDx
  10. zchamu

Final Thoughts

As with the other Canadian cities, the busiest day in February in Ottawa was the 28th due to the gold medal hockey game. The second busiest was the 12th, the day of the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. The growth in the Ottawa twittersphere this month is similar to that of Calgary. Still a severe lack of tagged tweets though!

State of the Ottawa Twittersphere – January 2010

Welcome to the first State of the Ottawa Twittersphere, my look at the intersection of Twitter and Ottawa, ON.

For information on the data, definitions, and other background, click here.

For January 2010:

# of local users: 8562
# of tweets by local users: 426258
# of tweets by local users containing #ottawa/#yow: 2828 (0.7%)
# of tweets by local users that were replies: 150400 (35.3%)
# of tweets by local users containing links: 113889 (26.7%)
# of tweets by local users that were retweets: 40243 (9.4%)
# of tweets by local users that were twooshes: 18104 (4.2%)

Here are the numbers above in graphic form:

Here are the top clients used by local users for posting updates:

Some other interesting stats for the month:

  • Just under 52% of all local tweets were posted between 9 AM and 5 PM.
  • Local users posted roughly 9.6 tweets per minute in January.
  • The day with the most local tweets posted was January 27 at 17041. On average, 13750 local tweets were posted each day.
  • Of the 150400 replies posted by local users this month, 41710 or 27.7% were to other local users.
  • A total of 1618 users posted 50 times or more in January. In comparison, 1235 users posted just once.

Here are the top ten most followed local users:

  1. pmharper
  2. billbateswins
  3. campbed
  4. Jason_OToole
  5. ErinBlaskie
  6. BlackBerryCool
  7. snookca
  8. knealemann
  9. MattMossop
  10. AtifMirzaRemax

Here are the top ten most listed local users:

  1. CharlesCrosbie
  2. snookca
  3. pmharper
  4. BlackBerryCool
  5. michelfortin
  6. ErinBlaskie
  7. michaelgeist
  8. surinderJsingh
  9. CloutMarketing
  10. plevy

Here are the top ten most active local users:

  1. whoreformusic
  2. kareenaristide
  3. CRAcorruption
  4. ice89
  5. LorenaHeletea
  6. Mr_SaGz
  7. bitofmomsense
  8. wickedcanadagal
  9. all_caps
  10. Dr_Tania

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the Winnipeg stats, so learning that they don’t use a local hashtag was interesting, not surprising. But it’s safe to say that I am surprised local hashtag usage in Ottawa is so low (unless they use one I’m not aware of): I counted just 112 tweets tagged with #yow, and just 2716 with #ottawa. As you can see above, that’s less than 1% of all tweets posted during the month. Maybe some of that is due to the federal/national focus that is natural for Canada’s capital city. Ottawa users do reply to one another more frequently than Winnipeggers do, however.

Another surprise: there are a lot of users in Ottawa and they post a lot! I’m looking forward to seeing if the numbers grow.

In Toronto

We drove down to Toronto today after leaving Ottawa around 10 AM. We didn’t realize there was an extra drop charge on the car rental, but it still worked out to about the same or slightly cheaper than a flight. It didn’t take too long to get to the city, and the drive was actually pretty nice, but it took longer to find the place we were going! Thank goodness for MapPoint. We had a meeting with a colocation facility (Frontline) which went very well (they were nice enough to meet with us on Saturday). After the meeting, we called our good friend Ashish Patel!

Ashish was nice enough to take us on a tour of the IBM Toronto Software Lab where he works. I took a few pictures, but told him I wouldn’t post them (no need to find out if they have a blogging policy the hard way!). The place is pretty neat and is a world class IBM facility where WebSphere, Rational, Tivoli, Lotus and other software products are created (including the compiler for the upcoming PS3). It was very cool to see where Ashish works, and he has our Podbot picture proudly displayed at his desk!

After the tour we took Ashish for dinner (he chose Boston Pizza which was fine by me) and then we just hung out at his place for a while. Was kind of nice to relax for a couple of days here. We drove to the airport tonight and got a room at the Sheraton so that we don’t have to get up so early to leave tomorrow.

We considered extending our trip and going to New York, but decided maybe next time! We’ll be back in Edmonton tomorrow at 2:30 PM.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, it rained almost all day, both in Ottawa when we left and in Toronto! Sure beats the snow though 😉

In Ottawa

Dickson and I arrived here in Ottawa this morning at 9:30 AM and quickly had to get to the hotel to get started for the Wes Nicol competition. It’s been a packed day, which I wrote about at our VenturePrize Experience blog. We think our presentation went very, very well!

We’re just waiting for the dinner to start now, which is where the winner will be announced. Following the dinner is a party, and then probably bedtime, considering we only slept around 4 hours yesterday and those 4 hours were on a plane. The good news is that we got our travel plans changed, so we are departing from Toronto on Sunday rather than from here tomorrow morning. Gives us time to make a few business calls in TO.

Anyway, will update more later. Wish us luck!