What inside OttWatch?

Keep track of City Council and Committee meetings as they are published. The City's e-Agenda tool is great, but it requires that you check in to find out what's going on. Ottawa Watch monitors the agendas and minutes automatically and will tweet when new documents are found. So follow @OttWatch and you'll never miss an update. You can browse all meetings too - and there is a handy dashboard for viewing meeting documents and agenda items (ex: City Council Feb 27, 2012).

Find out who's lobbying the City. Lobbyists are required to file reports within 15 days of any lobbying activities. But again, do you really want to check the Lobbyist Registry every day? I don't. The @OttWatch twitter account will let you know when lobbyists have entered their data. You can also search for lobbyist data from the home page. (FYI: The lobbyist search is a bit flaky at the moment after I discovered multiple lobbyists with the same name. I'll fix this eventually).

Keep track of Development Applications.. Again, the city makes this information available on a not-bad search tool. OttWatch tweets new and updated development applications as they are detected, and offers a toasty-quick page of all applications for easy reference (instead of 26 pages of search results).

Original Stories. OttWatch contributors sometimes write original stories on local topics. You can read them all on the stories page.

Election 2014 Coverage. The election coverage page lets you find information about every candidate.

OpenData. Track Ottawa's opendata portal as new data is published.

Use the API in your own applications. See the API About page for full details about the API OttWatch provides to other developers. Morphing some of the City's opendata into a Mysql database is not hard, but is not trivial either. If you want to skip right away to mobile app development, use the JSON!

Why are you doing this?

If you follow my main kevino.ca site you'll know I'm into politics, and have goals there. But the values that spur me to work on this project are rooted in open-government, transparency, and accountability. The City of Ottawa is making good progress on opening up data and making it easier for citizens to engage. OttWatch couldn't happen without the City opening up as much as it already has. I have some technical skills, so my goal is to help open up the data even more, and make it available to a wider audience. You'll see what I mean when some more features come out. There's a method to the madness!

What's the tech behind OttWatch?

OttWatch runs on an Amazon EC2 "small" Unbuntu server, using Apache, PHP and Mysql. The GUI prettiness is courtesy of Bootstrap, and the REST style application design is aided by Epiphany. Source code is tracked in GIT and deployments are handled by Capistrano. All in all, a wonderful system to work in that couldn't be more different than my day job.

Created by Kevin O'Donnell to make it easier to be part of the political conversation in Ottawa.
On Twitter? Follow @OttWatch and @kevinodotnet
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