Common-Nature

July 21, 2007

Missouri provides online fiscal info.

Filed under: Government — kirk @ 12:50 am

Missouri recently launched a site that allows citizens to drill down into state government expenses. The Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP) allows you to view payment information for goods, services and program disbursements by category, vendor or contract.

I think it’s a great start on creating transparent government in Missouri…although I’d like to see a few additional features. The first would be to eliminate the alert you get if you aren’t using IE. If you’re a Firefox user, you’ll get an alert saying that you should use IE to get assured of a good Web experience. These sorts of alerts today are, in my opinion, like a pop-up announcement that the Web app wasn’t designed using best practices in javascript and xhtml. But this would be an easy fix…the site does work fairly well in Firefox by the way.
The other feature would be harder to add. While you can drill down to find out about the amount of a single payment to a vendor, you can’t (as far as I can tell) find out precisely what service or goods this payment secured for Missouri.

However, all that said, I think this is a great service to add to Missouri state government.

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July 20, 2007

GeoRSS, Googlemaps and outdoor recreation

Filed under: Government, Collaboration, Geotagging, Missouri Mapping Project — kirk @ 9:04 pm

Haven’t posted for awhile because I’ve been busy with a new project.

In short, I’m working with some folks to create a way that cities, non-government organizations, as well as state and federal agencies can easily syndicate information about their outdoor recreational facilities and services with each other in Missouri.

This project has two components: One is a method by which xml can be used to syndicate information between all the partners listed above. The other is the use of google maps as a low-cost solution to present that information.

The project came about in response to a common problem I’ve seen in many collaborative Web projects. Many collaborative Web projects, in my opinion, fail because of how they collect information. Usually, a collaborative site will contact many organizations and manually collect information to put in a master database. By the time that information is collected, however, some of the information is already outdated.

After the collaborative Web site is launched, how to you update the information? The traditional approaches are to either no update it, engage in a major manual update project every few years or ask agencies to come to one central Web site and help update the collaborative Web site. None of these approaches works well.

Why not create an environment where all partners in a collaborative site simply made sure that data on their own respective sites was up to date? And what if the collaborative site was able to just go to each partner site and grab the up to date information? This would allow partners to focus on keeping their own site up to date and it would automatically update the collaborative site.

That’s the idea behind what I’m currently calling the Missouri Mapping project.

I’ll be posting more information about over the next few months, but I’d like to make two points up front:

  1. This project could work for any state or country. In fact, the more states that adopt this project, the more would help this project
  2. I’m quite eager to get and use any input you have on this project, how it could be improved, and any other type of suggestion or resource you might have to help this better a better project.

My overall goal is to provide a mechanism that enables government to easily collaborate with non-government organizations or individual citizens — specifically when it comes to getting people outdoors to enjoy (and ultimately protect) our wildlife habitat.

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