At a February talk about the Asheville budget project, I mentioned that the Asheville Citizen-Times iframed the site in their online edition and that it had dramatically increased our reach into the community. During Q&A, Asheville CIO Jonathan Feldman asked if it might have led visitors to believe the site was created by the Citizen-Times rather than Code for Asheville. My response at the time was: “Who cares? The goal was to get the tool into the hands of citizens and they helped us do that.”
Today I’d go further and claim that it’s perhaps better that people think that.
Neither Code for Asheville nor DemocracyApps have direct relationships with large groups of citizens. But there are community players who do have those relationships, from media organizations like the Citizen-Times to advocacy groups, neighborhood associations, non-profits and many others. If our goal is to build a tool that positively impacts as many people as possible, it seems to me the best way to do it is to become the best tool we can for those players.
This year we will focus on a couple different ways to do that.
First, we will try to provide a better research tool for them. The potential value to media is obvious and we are seeking input from a number of local journalists to guide our efforts. But similar value is possible for other organizations as well. For example, Kitty Love of the Asheville Area Arts Council recently invited me to use the site to kick off a roundtable discussion on public arts funding at their Creative Sector Summit because of its potential value as a tool for arts advocacy.
The second way is to make it much easier to use the visualizations on other sites. Iframing the entire avlbudget.org site was a great way to highlight what Code for Asheville had done, but is basically all-or-nothing. There wasn’t any way for a reporter to use a specific visualization to make a point in an article, or to let people explore from a specific point of view. That is a second major goal in the design of the new platform: to give organizations the ability to create and embed custom visualizations or specific views that they have discovered.
Next up: expanding beyond Asheville to smaller communities with fewer resources.
This post is part of a series on the new budget platform:
- Introducing the Budget App 2.0
- Budget 2.0 – Building for Partnership
- Beyond Asheville: Making the platform accessible to smaller communities (Coming soon)
- Promoting Conversation: Building easy ways for people to share discoveries and information(Coming soon)
- Foundation for Creativity: Creating a customizable, pluggable platform (Coming soon)