Another 2 million people can get PlanningAlerts

Volunteers at the GoogleServe event

Volunteers at the GoogleServe event

Another 2 million people in Australia now have a simple way to impact development in their local area. Last month the OpenAustralia Foundation teamed up with a group of volunteer engineers from Google and have expanded the availability of our project PlanningAlerts to 21 more local council areas.

The event was part of the GoogleServe program, a week in June where Google staff work on projects with local not-for-profit organisations around the world. It was also the 7th birthday of OAF’s first project OpenAustralia.org.au.

Volunteers writing scrapers together

The crew writing scrapers together

We spent the 16th and 17th of June at Google’s Sydney office. We mostly focused on expanding the coverage of PlanningAlerts but also collecting useful data and introducing our other projects. We looked at summarising divisions in They Vote For You, collected basic information on local councilors throughout Australia and added new capabilities to morph.io. Matthew Landauer, OAF founder and co-director, also kicked things off with a presentation on our projects and mission titled ‘Citizens vs Customers’.

Matthew Landauer talking with attendees after his presentation

Matthew Landauer talking with attendees after his presentation

We had a great time working with everyone and were really impressed by the volunteers practical approach. Here are some of the outcomes from the event:

  • A huge amount of useful data was made public through morph.io;
  • that data is immediately being used by citizens all over Australia through PlanningAlerts;
  • a bunch of open source developers got to know each other and are continuing to collaborate; and
  • we all got to learn and practice scraping, which increases our capacity to collect data.

As a small charity, these practical outcomes, for citizens, attendees and our organisation, are crucial.

2015-06 OAF Google - 24 of 25

Our scoreboard showing some of the councils we worked on and the population count.

A huge thanks to Tim Ansell from Google for organising the event and to everyone who came along. We were extremely impressed by the volunteers. They dived straight in, asked questions without fear, learned what they needed, and started making practical contributions right away. It was a great example of how these kind of hacking events can give existing open source projects a solid boost. What a birthday present to the OpenAustralia Foundation and what a win for local democracy!

This entry was posted in Event, PlanningAlerts.org.au and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Trackbacks

  • […] days of coding, 10 Googlers helped the OpenAustralia Foundation give two million people access to Planning Alerts, which notify residents about local construction and demolition projects. And a team of Googlers in […]

  • […] days of coding, 10 Googlers helped the OpenAustralia Foundation give two million people access to Planning Alerts, which notify residents about local construction and demolition projects. And a team of Googlers in […]

  • By Celebrating 10 years of GoogleServe | EDUMIO.com on June 22, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    […] days of coding, 10 Googlers helped the OpenAustralia Foundation give two million people access to Planning Alerts, which notify residents about local construction and demolition projects. And a team of Googlers in […]

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