And we’re back

It’s been a quiet kind of year for the OpenAustralia Foundation. While we’ve seen maintenance work continue quietly in the background, upgraded to catch up with changes at the official Federal parliamentary website, ran Election Leaflets for the 2012 Queensland State Election, made Github our primary code host so we can accept more contributions via pull requests, fixed 3 PlanningAlerts scrapers, added 5 more authorities to PlanningAlerts, added continuous integration to automatically test our project’s code, kept up to date with removing retiring politicians and adding new ones, fixed error reporting on PlanningAlerts so we’re notified when there’s a problem, and answered dozens of emails from Australians that use our projects, BUT we’ve not started any major new projects this year.

That’s all about to change. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been picking up the pace.

Last week Matthew, Henare and I met up and agreed it would be good to share what we’re doing as we go along and gathered a few statistics. But tickets on our issue tracker only tell a story for the insatiably curious geek. So, rather than quote statistics, we came up with a little reporting format for our new weekly meetings and use that now as a basis to share with you what we’ve been up to.

It felt like a productive week for Henare and Matthew. Scoping was completed on a couple of new projects, a decision on which one to go ahead with was made which leads to a clear direction for the next few weeks work for all of us.

Planning Alerts
An email came through last week alerting us to a development which has not been reported by PlanningAlerts. Normally PlanningAlerts sends alerts to people, not the other way round! Checking up on what went wrong, I quickly discover that this feed from the council was broken and so are a few others. Eek! Wasting no time, Matthew and Henare got on the case to fix 8 councils’ data feeds almost immediately. Hurrah!
Find out more: To see which planning authorities are currently covered by PlanningAlerts go to

Oh no! Due to changes in the parliamentary data feed fell over, with no updates from the House of Reps or the Senate for a big chunk of 2012. Thanks to Henare and Justin Wells this service is slap bang up to date again with all the debates to the present day.

Way back in January 2009 we were the first website to bring the parliamentary register of interests online.  We’re pleased to note that following our example, the official parliament website now has the latest Registers of Interests online and discoverable for both the Senate and House of Reps. If you’d like to help us update the collated Registers on Senators and Reps pages that we have at, then please  stick your hand up!

Secret Squirrel
Last week we looked at a couple of contenders for the OpenAustralia Foundation’s Next Big Thing. Last week Matthew and Henare took a project each and assessed the technical work to get going on the two standouts. To our delight they both look doable in very reasonable timeframes, so we’re optimistic about completing them both. Since we’ve spent a while now focused on local level projects, we decide our next project to be one with federal scope (at least to begin with).

A lot happens behind the curtains at the OpenAustralia Foundation. Are you curious to find out more? What you’re interested in hearing about? Tell us and we’ll see if we can include it in our next update!

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