Casey Vaughan (Staff) Leverage: Philly Campaign Finance Update #1

Leverage: Project Update: Spring 2016

The Leverage team energized by an excellent Hackathon prototype built over two days in late March 2016 has continued in its effort throughout the spring months. Two in person group meetings were held in the weeks following DemHack 2016 to finalize team leads in the following areas:

Subject Expert: Meghan O’Conner Data Analysis: Led by Eamon Caddigan Visualization: Led by Patrick Woods Technology: Led by Adebayo Adejare Strategy: Led by Jacqueline Siotto Project Manager: Josh Werner Project Coordinator: Casey Vaughan Consultants: Bob Lannon & Kam Lasater

The Data Analysis is experimenting with different ways of distilling the finance data released by the city into easily digestible information for Philadelphia voters. This includes additional analysis of the unsupervised clustering approach used in our DemHack 2016 presentation; we hope to discover hidden structure in the pattern of donations that will allow us to make comparisons between the candidates. We are also experimenting with supervised approaches that could allow us to apply meaningful labels to the types of donors who support each candidate.

After some research and debate, the visualization team has decided on using NVD3 ( as its means to display dynamic data. Moving forward, we will work with the Data Analysis Team to determine which visualizations will be needed. We want to focus on displaying the campaign finance data in a way that is clear and understandable for both experienced user of this information, and novice voters who are interested in understanding how money has been spread in their local elections. We will then work with the Technology Team to connect the site to the data, and display the visualizations on the front end of the site/app.

The technology team tasked with infrastructure for the application ensures the seamless integration's of the various web systems and provides maintenance and security for the server. The technology team deploys Django API with a Nginx+Gunicorn setup as the server infrastructure complete with reverse proxy, load balancing, firewall and any other necessary components to the availability and security of the web application and site. Lastly, the technology team investigates the integration of dockerized containers for easier deployment and maintenance.

The Leverage project's main objective is to make Philadelphia campaign finance data more accessible and useful to voters. The strategy team is conducting market research to better understand how city-level campaign finance data is currently being used around the US, and how and to whom it might be most useful in Philadelphia. We are following up our general research with an online survey and in-person focus groups, which will help us identify and define our core target users as well as inform how we design and build our website/app and visualizations. We will continue to solicit feedback throughout the development process to ensure we best meet the needs of our users. The strategy team will work closely with our subject-matter expert to gain insight into the national and city-level campaign finance landscape, the data analysis team to determine what information is most relevant to our target users, and the visualizations team to help inform our final product.

We are especially grateful and excited to have caught the attention of Tina Zh, Marc-Andy Noel Jeune and Ian Campbell in recent weeks. Tina and Marc-Andy are joining the visualization team and Ian is looking to provide support to both the technology and visualization teams. Also we would like to publicly thank Chris Alfano and the entire Code For Philly team who constantly fan the embers that keep projects like this alive.

Moving forward the group has settled into an impressive cadence as members juggle professional and personal obligations. A monthly group-wide teleconference will be held during the summer months to keep the cadence steady. Teams and smaller groups will continue to work independently via Slack, hack nights and google hangouts. We will post an update at the end of the summer to keep others apprised of our progress!