Voters want to be informed before going to the polls. The Campaign Spending Commission staff has already provided many useful reports and data visualization on their website at It would be very interesting to see how much the construction industry contributed to each of the mayoral candidates and over a specific period of time. Similarly, knowing how much energy companies contributed to a candidate might give us an idea of where that candidate would stand on an alternative energy proposal. This kind of information can engage citizens in government activities.

What it does

Grouping by industry segments allows reporting based on special interests. This allows voters to see how much a particular industry contributed to candidates. We created a simple data visualization to give a peek at some of the possibilities of combining the dataset that are available.

How we built it

We met with Jennifer Silva representing the Campaign Spending Commission at the HACC Kick-Off and got an idea of what the agency thought might be useful for voters. At the first check-in, all team members were able to discuss things further with Jennifer. We also used Slack’s direct message facility to communicate with Jennifer. In one communication, she contacted the Associate Director then got back to us with an answer to our question in a very timely manner.

Using the rich Campaign Spending Commission dataset on, we can place contributors in the Campaign Contributions Received By Hawaii State and County Candidates from November 8, 2006 Through August 13, 2015 dataset into areas or industries based on the Area, Scope or Jurisdiction field in the Organizational Reports for Hawaii Noncandidate Committees dataset. We used a relational database to sift through the data during the process of trying to understand what the data was trying to tell us. This also allowed us to see how clean the data was. Insome cases, we needed to apply a light touch of cleanser to allow joining the datatsets without losing or mix up the data during the operation.

Challenges we ran into

The Campaign Spending Commission provides a tremendous amount of Candidate Contribution and Expenditure data available through Too much data makes it difficult to quickly make sense of it. It takes time to hide columns that are not helpful with analyzing the data.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were able to create a data visualization that is useful and relatively simple. It can be used in a variety of different ways.

What we learned

While it appears easy to come up with interesting insights from the data that's available, it is a lot of hard work to ensure the datasets can be joined together to in a meaningful way. We spent most of our time looking at the data values and trying to make sense of them in a larger context.

A lot of data is accessible in and using the tools Socrata makes available one can filter, group, and total records fairly easily without having to download it all. The ability to hide columns make it easier to see the pertinent pieces without being distracted.

What's next for Campaign Contributions by Industry Segment

The data is currently being collected via the mandatory filings required of candidates, candidate committees, and non-candidates committees. The data visualization that we came up with can easily be added to the set of reports that the Campaign Spending Commission's website provides. The existing technology they use (PHP and DB2) can support data visualizations as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are easily served up by what they have.

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