Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Visualize the Legislative Process

The brainchild of University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP) and Schema, LegEx is short for "Legislative Explorer" and is a data-driven interactive tool that allows users to visually track the progress of legislation as it makes its way through Congress.

A Bit of Background
A joint endeavor of faculty members and researchers from academic institutions from around the world, CAPPP's mission is "to promote basic research and appreciation of political and public policy processes." CAPPP conducts research, organizes conferences and workshops, provides training, and builds datasets to promote the public understanding of politics. (CAPPP).

With the help of Schema (a Seattle-based creative design and technology studio specializing in information design and data visualization), one such project of CAPPP's is Leg Ex.  In short, LegEx applies data visualization tools hitherto typically used in scientific data research to congressional legislation. LegEx allows users to visually follow the progress of bills and legislation across congresses and even allows users to narrow visualizations to particular types of legislation, committees, members, etc.

A Bit About Data Visualization
Neoformix http://neoformix.com
Proponents of data visualization tools have lauded users' ability to use such tools to detect patterns and more easily understand large sets of data. As mentioned, such tools/techniques were originally used to portray natural science datasets, but are increasingly being used in a variety of other fields. One fascinating example is the US Census Bureau's Data Visualization Gallery. Data visualization methods have even made an incursion into legal research with Ravel Law's attempt to combine traditional case law research with data analytics.

For more information on data visualization in general, see Cesar A. Hidalgo & Ali Almossawi, The Data-Visualization Revolution, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Mar. 17, 2014

For more information on LegEx, visit CAPPP's blog on LegEx or give it a go yourself at www.legex.org.

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