In today’s hectic political environment, it’s becoming more and more important to be aware of the government on all levels, local to national. One of the things that we found often in our initial problem search was that people were often active during presidential elections, however, they were nearly not as active during local elections. This is ironic because in most cases local officials have much more power to effect a change in an individual’s day-to-day life. We also found that everyone that we interviewed had a genuine interest in participating on a local level, but ultimately they found it too hard to find information on their local official candidates.
What it does
We built a solution that allows users to stay informed on candidates that are near their zip code, so they can make an educated decision when voting for local officials.
How we built it
We built our solution by identifying our problem space and sketching out the solution’s architecture. By using a 2018 MIT election dataset, we were able to gather information on candidates. We stored the data set in Azure Table storage and we made requests from our site to pull specific data points from Azure Table Storage.
Challenges we ran into
One of the major problems that we kept running into was finding accessible candidate data. Although there were plenty of APIs that provided civic information (i.e. candidates, election dates, incumbents, etc.), many of these APIs either provided outdated information or were hidden behind a paywall. We overcame this challenge by finding datasets that sufficed the needs of our application.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We stumbled upon many roadblocks along the way, but we stuck with our systematic approach and overcame them one by one. This is also our second hackathon together and we were proud of ourselves coming in with a more prepared plan this time around.
What we learned
We’re very grateful for being able to realize the power of web services such as Azure. We’re only just beginning to realize what we could create in the future using it as a tool.
What's next for PoLocal
We’re currently waiting for a response from an organization for access to a much more accessible civic information API. This API would give us a larger and more accurate set of information including upcoming elections and candidates’ opinions on issues.
Given more time we would love to take advantage of Azure Web Services to gather information on the candidates in our datasets. Providing information on candidates’ views would be incredibly useful in our users’ voting decision.