Town Hall Project Map
February 9, 2017 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Town Hall Project Map
I found out about the Town Hall Project from this question on ask. The data in the spreadsheet are amazing, but it can be pretty hard to get the most relevant data out of a spreadsheet. I made a couple hacked together maps to help with that question, but then decided to actually make a real thing as a learning exercise and to hopefully help other people out.

Most of the work is in a poorly documented Python script in this repo. It pulls the data from the spreadsheet via the Google Sheets API, does some basic data cleaning, runs things through a couple geocoding tools (something I learned is how difficult it is to find geocoding data without onerous licensing restrictions!) and then kicks out a geojson object, which I put on the map. I

Open source, GPL licensed, comments and contributions welcome!

Things I am planning on doing:
  • Properly document the code
  • Automate data loading- right now I have to run the script by hand and commit to update it.
  • Add a grid of non-geo-referenced(phone, locations TBD, etc) town halls
  • A layer showing congressional districts
  • Filtering by date/days from now
  • Make it easier to add an event to a personal calendar
  • Enter a location and see the town halls for the members of congress for that location
Role: developer
posted by rockindata (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Not sure what their organizational structure is (totally volunteer-driven?), but I saw on Twitter that they were planning on building a more permanent website/tool:

You may be interested in pitching in!

What I think would be helpful is a sign up form where you can put your location and get notification of upcoming/cancelled Town Halls for your congressperson and/or nearby.

For some plug-and-chug table and map functionality, check out
posted by waninggibbon at 2:40 PM on February 9, 2017

I am definitely hoping that in the fairly near future there will be a fancy website with a fancy map, because then I can move on to other side projects with a bunch of learning under my belt, while not having to run regular data refreshes. For now, I hope this will help some people find their local representative's town halls so that they can give them an earful!
posted by rockindata at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2017

I learned more about bootstrap and now the page looks prettier. There is also a list of unmapped town halls, hurrah.
posted by rockindata at 9:55 AM on February 12, 2017

Great work! Geocoding is a nightmare. If you're still looking for a better solution, you may want to give Mapzen a look -- their Pelias geocoder is open source, has generous API limits, and does a really good job.

I notice ESRI is credited in the map. What part comes from them, out of curiosity?
posted by mgalka at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2017

Thanks mgalka! I am actually using the Pelias geocoder for the search on the map, and I will probably add it in to the geocoding in here shortly (looking currently at a dozen addresses that failed both nominatim and smartystreets validation...) There are some locations that have resulted in me driving around upstate New York on streetview, looking for VFW halls and senior centers.

I am using data from the US Census for the legislative districts, and they only have an ArcGIS rest endpoint to get the data. Esri makes a pretty powerful leaflet plug-in for interacting with their endpoints, so I just did that. It does then jam an ESRI credit in, but so it goes.
posted by rockindata at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2017

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