We're the Codefather team from Terem Technologies. With CouncilPlus we want to solve the problem of open source data access regarding the correlation between funding, services and societal outcomes across local governments.
Currently, information about government spending by the council is fragmented. Each council must submit annual reports which outline their revenue, expenditure, and funding. But these reports do not demonstrate how this funding is translated into specific initiatives. Moreover, each state has their own standards of data sharing and comparisons of services across local councils.
💡 The solution
CouncilPlus: an open-source, aggregated, free dataset which is a consistent means of offering instantaneous access to relevant statistics for local government areas. Using our simple framework, councils all over Australia can use the data to collaborate with each other, share best practice and identify gaps to more effectively lobby for more funding and services. Additionally, we have created a channel for councils to interact directly with the federal government to raise awareness about issues being facing by their communities. We have used 10 data sets across crime, education and health, and our solution is built in React and Node.js, hosted on Heroku.
Our tool, CouncilPlus, is a data visualisation framework that allows for council data comparisons with a click of a button. Where councils are able to identify gaps, plan their funding applications, and petition the government, in the spirit of open-source, so can local residents. This system can further assist councils to recognise areas of concern or interest in their communities. You can also see what petitions have been started in your area and join your neighbours in showing your support.
🚀 Future milestones
We have started with the datasets for the seven local government areas of greater Sydney, but we plan to expand this to all 537 councils across Australia.
Future milestones include building an API to connect our petition-building capability directly to the government’s current system, E-Petition, to work with subject matter experts to improve the awareness indicators and identify trends, and to move away from the historical data collection model to real time.
🖖 We’re the Codefather, and we’re hoping in the most positive way, that we are making councils "an offer they can’t refuse".
The Codefather has a diverse team of nine members across different areas of Sydney and realised although we cared about the same things related to our communities (health, safety, access to hospitals, schools etc) there wasn’t a single source of truth to compare each other’s areas to see where there were gaps in service. The data clearly shows there are disparities in services across services areas, and our desire to do something about it was the catalyst for building in the petition functionality.
Once the challenges were announced, our team decided to use the data to identify any gaps in service and build a tool to highlight these gaps so action could be taken.
Next, we used the government’s own priorities as related to the 2018 budget, third priority “Guaranteeing the essential services Australians rely on” to.
Lastly, we looked at the challenges themselves and there was a common pattern of using novel technical mashups, making data more useful, telling the stories of Australians and sharing those stories with the greater population, and contributing toward the greater good. By focusing on safety, education and health, we believe we have a solid foundation on which to add even more datasets and expand reporting indicators, as well as having met the criteria of each challenge we have entered.