What we’ve been up to so far in 2016

It’s the eve of our second planning session for 2016. Tomorrow we’ll be deciding what to work on for the next 3 months and scheduling it in. We’ve been getting in the habit of writing a blog post with a quick retrospective of our previous quarter and laying out the plans for the next one.

Unfortunately we didn’t do this at the start of 2016. This was partially because we got wrapped up in time-sensitive work for the Open Government Partnership. But it was mainly because we didn’t come out of the several planning sessions we had with a rough plan for the year, as we did in 2015.

This turned out to be fortuitous because the last three months have seen us work on a number of things we didn’t and couldn’t plan for. It’s good that we can continue to be flexible but tomorrow we intend to end up with a detailed plan for the quarter and complete our rough plan for the year. Wish us luck.

Hang on, what about the end of 2015?

That’s a good question. Let’s do a quick review of what we planned for the last quarter of 2015 and how it worked out.

A chart of how much time we spent on each project during Q4 2015.

Our time tracking for 2015 Q4 by project

We did another great scraping workshop. They’re undoubtedly valuable and we enjoy doing them but they’re heaps of work and financially marginal for the Foundation. We’ll be giving them a break for a while.

They Vote For You for Ukraine, or should I say Вони голосують для тебе? It’s launched, our partners are thrilled, we’re thrilled, and we’re certain the people of Ukraine will be thrilled. This is one of those things we really should blog about sometime soon. It’s an amazing example of international civic tech collaboration.

PlanningAlerts – Write To Your Councillor progressed a lot but not as much as we planned. We’ve rolled it out to 3 authorities and we’re already seeing citizens and councillors have helpful discussions about planning applications – that’s really exciting. We’d hoped to have more of the infrastructure completed but even now that’s still pending.

Charging commercial users of PlanningAlerts. We said this quarter would be the decider. It’s decided – we’re not working on it any more. We already have a way forward though and I hope we can write more on this soon and go ahead with our plan.

The server upgrade. Oh the server upgrade. We bloody did it! That’s a huge amount of technical debt paid off and has made all of our projects more secure and sustainable.

We said hi to Melbourne. The meetup was massive, we met loads of people, and the relationships we forged are already proving mutually beneficial. Win!

And finally we had our end of year celebration in a park on Sydney harbour. It was a beautiful day and the turn out was great, with many humans and several dogs. We ate some great food people had gone to a lot of trouble to make or bring and had a few drinks. We’ll be doing this again for sure, it was such a nice way to celebrate our year with many of the people that helped make it happen.

The first 3 months of 2016

Phew. Hang on, we need a breather after all that. Ready? Okay, let’s go.

A chart of how much time we spent on each project during Q1 2016.

Our time tracking for 2016 Q1 by project

I’ve split everything we’ve done in the last 3 months into projects but I’ll start with some stuff that didn’t fit into those categories:

  • We ran 2 pub meets in Sydney which were really good and had a great lineup of speakers each time
  • I gave a talk with volunteer Keith Pitty at the Sydney Ruby meetup, RORO, about why you should contribute to OAF projects and how you can get involved
  • Luke gave a workshop at the Walkley’s Editors Lab hackathon and I was on the jury
  • Luke presented at WDYK Sydney March 2016 and told the crowd to roll up their sleeves when they see a design problem
  • We dealt with 389 support email threads
  • Wrote more rada4you.org scraper documentation and assisted our local partner with scraper debugging
  • Wrote 7 blog posts and sent almost 5,000 emails about them to interested people

PlanningAlerts: 37 scrapers worked on by us and volunteers. Maintenance including bugfixes and adding the ability to disable an API key after some abuse of the API. We had to manually deal with a lot of comment abuse on a few applications.

Write To Councillors: 3 trial councils rolled out and working. Added comment performance charts to ensure the work we’re doing is having a positive impact. Started creating Popolo data for Australian councillors. Added the ability to load councillors from Popolo data. Opened 5 pull requests on WriteIt project. 3 pull requests merged into everypolitician-popolo gem.

morph.io: Merged pull requests from 5 volunteers including adding support for webhooks and several bits of node.js documentation. Maintenance including bugfixes and ensuring we have enough disk space. Added a new sysadmin.

Right To Know: Work with mySociety on site promotion stuff including AdWords. We were on ABC Radio’s PM programme talking about a specific request and the importance of transparency and our approach to it.

They Vote For You: Merged a helpful bugfix from a volunteer. Researcher Micaela continues to summarise dozens of divisions and maintains policies. She’s also created policies specifically for OGP topics. We wrote a Senate submission about voting in parliament.

Open Government Partnership: Kat was sent to represent Australia and the civil society network at the OGP Civil Society Leaders’ Workshop in The Hague. We set up the Australian OGP Civil Society Network, including creating the website and network collaboration tools.

OpenAustralia.org.au: Update data for 2 resigned MPs and their replacements. Removed the mySociety research experiments we started last year.

Election Leaflets: Began talks with a potential media partner about running it for the upcoming federal election.

OK, what’s next?

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