Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Expense Visualizer by FFunction

It took us almost two years to get there: following a Canadian federal directive, departments had to publish their travel and hospitality expenses. Scattered amongst more than a hundred websites, VisibleGovernment.ca (a Canadian non-profit organization promoting online tools for government transparency) scraped this data and put it into a database. The result: a 22MB SQL database, which just waited for an online tool to unlock its potential.

Publishing data is a necessary step for a more transparent democracy, but this data also has to be accessible enough so that any citizen can use to better understand what is going on in the government. With other governments publishing financial and budget data, we felt it was time to create a tool that would give better, easier access to the information hidden in big spreadsheets and databases.

The ExpenseVisualizer is an online tool that takes advantage of modern web technologies to provide a visual, interactive window on the Canadian Hospitality & Travel Expenses dataset. Our goal was to create a simple tool that would give citizens the opportunity to look at the numbers, discover interesting facts, trends and patterns... and more importantly, to easily share their findings!

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