Civic Advocate Nonprofit – Contest Winner!

Created by The Participatory Budgeting Project, Participation Lab: Bitsy Bentley, Hadassah Damien
Launch Project
Budget Dashboard Maps Participatory Budgeting

How I Started

PBNYC-curious community members can use their smartphone to: find their district, see if their district does PB, search, sort, filter, and share an open data-sourced list of PB projects—both funded and unfunded, see how much money has been allocated in five languages more development is underway!

How I Built This

The application’s build happens in the Participation Lab at PBP, under the direction of Hadassah Damien, with Product Management leadership by Bitsy Bentley, technical development by, and several paid interns. Our key focus is users who want to know about the impacts of participatory budgeting, either in their community or in general.

This project is only possible because there is an open data set provided by NYCC and NYC Open Data, which collects and – importantly – authenticates the PBNYC project data we wanted to explore. Once that data set was first released in Spring 2017, it supported a proof of concept project that led to us receiving funding to expand.

Currently we work on an iterative cycle, with a quick launch to MVP in March 2018 (3 months), and development on monthly sprints with a quarterly roadmap broken into three key goals. Our team is small and lean, and this asks us to focus on the most important features and stay focused on what our users want to do, learn, and need. When a second open data set was released April 5, we were able to integrate it in one week!

The application itself is built in Laravel, with a MySQL base, which itself is populated by data from NYC Open Data we’ve cleaned and added to in Airtable. It is currently translated into the five most-spoken languages in NYC: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and Russian thanks to Google translate.

Ideation that generated the foundation of this project began in 2016, iterated when PBP was invited to be part of a Health Lab cohort at Civic Hall Labs, the data model was developed and data cleaned in a mapping pilot Spring 2017, and blossomed into a full application once PBP received funding from the Booth Ferris Foundation in mid-2017.

The Participatory Budgeting Project, Participation Lab: Bitsy Bentley, Hadassah Damien @PBProject

The Participatory Budgeting Project uses a democratic process to help community members decide how to spend public money. Our Participation Lab team is made of equity-focused technologists and human-centered designers.