Posts Tagged ‘Eric Mill’
The site covers:
congress-legislators: Detailed data on members of Congress, past and present.
congress: Scrapers and parsers for the work of Congress, all day, every day.
citation: Stand-alone legal citation detector. Text in, citations out.
uscode: Parser for the US Code.
bill-nicknames: Tiny spreadsheet of common nicknames for bills and laws.
glossary: A public domain glossary for the United States.
licensing: Policy guidelines for the licensing of US government information.
wish-list: Post ideas for new projects.
Eric has written a post explaining the project.
The Twitter hashtag for the hackathon is #legalhack
Here is the agenda:
PRIMARY ISSUE STATEMENT:
- Access to Justice, legal services searching.
The Legal Services Corporation has presented us with a compelling issue for legal hackers with the potential to help many low-income individuals around the country.
In a nutshell, LSC offers civil legal services to low-income individuals on the basis of particular “service areas,” which are defined by county, city, town, or other lines, as defined by Congress. LSC providers have locations within these services areas, and are only allowed to provide legal services within those areas. Therefore, it’s important for low-income individuals to know which LSC locations can serve them (and, relatedly, which of those locations is closest to them).
As it stands, the LSC search tool only offers the ability to search on the basis of state and county. Because counties can be very large, and sometimes the LSC service areas are not drawn on a county basis, the search function is not as helpful as it can be (and in some cases leads to confusing results). See Massachusetts for an example. Ideally, the search tool would be able to take a zip code as input and return the nearby locations in the assigned service area. In this hackathon, we will use the underlying mapping data that LSC has on file to create new and helpful ways for low-income individuals to search for their appropriate LSC location. An example for improvement is Stateside Legal.
9:30 Github 101
10 Access to Justice 101
10:30 Presenting the Access to Justice problem & team forming*
10:30-4:30 Hacking with lunch.
4:30 Presentations, discussion, and next steps.
After: drinks, pats on backs, more justice.
* * * * * * * *
*For those inclined, we have also outlined a few alternative tracks:
- DC regulatory law data modeling.
- Legal Annotation.
- Winning the Library of Congress XML Data Mapping challenge.
- Your legal tech idea!
For additional selected resources related to this event, please see the comments to this post.
Tauberer et al.: Open Government Data: Best-Practices Language for Making Data “License-Free,” Including Primary Legal ResourcesAugust 23, 2013
Joshua Tauberer, Eric Mill, Jonathan Gray, Ellen Miller, and Joseph Lorenzo Hall, have written a new guidance document for U.S. federal agencies, entitled Open Government Data: Best-Practices Language for Making Data “License-Free”.
Josh describes this document in his new post: Guidance: Federal agencies can make their data “license-free”.
Here are excerpts from the document:
Public government data is becoming an increasingly important part of the modern free press, industries from weather forecasting to business intelligence, and the repertoire of tools that can increase the efficiency of government services and support civic participation.
Open government data has been defined in many ways. One definition uses eight core principles. As a definition, it does not attempt to say what should be open but rather articulates the consensus understanding of what it means to be open. One principle, in its simplest form, states that open government data is “license-free,” or in other words that the data has no restrictions on use except as set forth in law.
This document provides language to affix to data publications so that they may meet, or to make it clear that they meet, the criteria of the “license-free” principle. The language is intended for U.S. federal government agencies. [...]
For Primary Legal Materials
The courts have ruled that the law — i.e. edicts of government — is not protected by copyright (see Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244, 253 (1888) and other cases). This has also been the position of the U.S. Copyright Office.
For federal government primary legal materials, the language for federal government works listed above will typically suffice. For other aspects of law that do not fall into one of the categories above, such as standards incorporated by reference, we recommend the following:
“This work contains laws, which are not subject to U.S. copyright protection. Additionally, [Body] waives copyright and related rights in the work worldwide through the CC0 1.0 Universal public domain dedication (which can be found at http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/).”
When publishing laws along side annotations in which copyright protections are asserted, we strongly recommend publishing an un-annotated copy of the law with the statement above.
The Council of the District of Columbia uses CC0 to waive copyright on the DC Code at http://dccouncil.us/UnofficialDCCode. [...]
Here are excerpts from the post:
Last year, a group of us who work daily with open government data — Josh Tauberer of GovTrack.us, Derek Willis at The New York Times, and myself — decided to stop each building the same basic tools over and over, and start building a foundation we could share.
We set up a small home at github.com/unitedstates [a.k.a, the unitedstates project], and kicked it off with a couple of projects to gather data on thepeople and work of Congress. Using a mix of automation and curation, they gather basic information from all over the government — THOMAS.gov, the House and Senate, the Congressional Bioguide, GPO’s FDSys, and others — that everyone needs to report, analyze, or build nearly anything to do with Congress.
Once we centralized this work and started maintaining it publicly, we began getting contributions nearly immediately. [...]
This is an unusual, and occasionally chaotic, model for an open data project. github.com/unitedstates is a neutral space; GitHub’s permissions system allows many of us to share the keys, so no one person or institution controls it. What this means is that while we all benefit from each other’s work, no one is dependent or “downstream” from anyone else. It’s a shared commons in the public domain.
There are a few principles that have helped make the unitedstates project something that’s worth our time:
- We collaborate in public. When we have questions or ideas, we bring them up and talk them out using GitHub’s issue tracker. Questions get answers very quickly, unexpected participants hop in, and (as with other Q&A systems like Stack Overflow and Quora) discussions themselves become valuable long-term artifacts. GitHub is extremely well designed for this.
- Our congressional tools can be used in a standalone, language-agnostic way, with no required configuration. You just need a command line, and data gets placed on disk in bulk. Nothing depends on a database.
- We started using our new data in a live product right away. Instead of waiting for something that felt “1.0″, Sunlight and GovTrack replaced their pre-existing collection infrastructure with our new tools as soon as they were functional. Because of this, we were forced to promptly fix bugs and fill gaps, and create a stable platform to iterate on. This guarantees momentum.
- No brand names. Our organization’s name, “unitedstates”, is harder to describe to someone in an elevator, but it makes it clearer to volunteers that they’re contributing to the public domain and the common good. Repository names project authority by being clear and descriptive, rather than catchy. [...]
For more details, please see the complete post.
The U.S. House Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force report of activities for 2012 (which begins on page 679) has been published.
[Click here to access the report by itself. HT Eric Mill]
Here are excerpts from the report’s executive summary:
- that it be a priority for Legislative Branch agencies to publish legislative information in XML and provide bulk access to that data;
- that the XML Working Group develop and maintain standards to ensure compatibility and interoperability of all machine-readable data published by the Legislative Branch; [...]
- that the Task Force be extended to the 113th Congress to continue to coordinate, initiate and track transparency-related projects. [...]
- [for authentication of legislative bulk data,] to use the model already in use by GPO and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) bulk data [...]
- that [the Task Force] continue to meet periodically with outside groups to enhance communication, get feedback on recent projects and continue to gather ideas for new open data projects. [...]
- [regarding whether to continue to use] Document Type Definitions (DTDs) to define open data document structures or make a gradual transition to the use of newer XML Schemas [...] the … Task Force recommends asking the Legislative Branch XML Working Group to develop a “White Paper” that will compare the use of DTDs and Schemas and make a recommendation to the Bulk Data Task Force on which technology we should use going forward. [...]
[Bulk Data Projects, three of which] support the recommendation[s] [...]:
- [1.] GPO is working on bill text that is already in XML format and making it available in a bulk data file. This project will be complete in time for the start of the 113th Congress. [...]
- [2.] The second [...] project [...] will take the existing XML Bill Summary documents and put them into a bulk data file. [...] This project will also begin with documents from the 113th Congress, the Library is prepared to begin this project immediately but we won’t have an estimated project completion date until a more detailed project analysis can be completed [...]. The Bill Summary Bulk Data will reside on GPO’s FDSYS website. Both of these projects will have natural follow-on projects to convert documents from previous Congresses.
- [3.] the Legislative Challenge [...] will be administered by the Library of Congress in concert … with the House of Lords Library of the British Parliament. The proposal for this project invites individuals or groups within and outside of the United States to compete on two data challenges to extend the development of the international Akoma Ntoso data standard so that it can map to the respective legislative data standards currently being used by the U.S. and the U.K. [...] [Click here for information about the first challenge]
- [4.] a Legislative Branch “Data Dashboard” [... will] provide a simple, intuitive interface that allows the user to more easily link to data, documents, video artifacts, searches, and services provided by the various Legislative Branch agencies. This project would also provide links to existing bulk data downloads but would be more geared to the general public. [...]
Joshua Tauberer has posted a commentary on the report.
He describes these in his new post: Following the FISA Court, the (Advanced) Internet Way.
Here are excerpts:
A couple weeks ago, I created @FISACourt, a Twitter account that automatically posts whenever the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court website is updated. I created it in about 5 minutes, using ChangeDetection.com and IFTTT, and blogged about how it works.
After I did that and @FISACourt got a few followers, I realized this would not be good enough. In my experience, IFTTT checks RSS feeds once an hour, and ChangeDetection’s FAQ says they check pages just once a day. That’s potentially a 25 hour delay — not so good for breaking news.
So I wrote some code to check the FISA Court myself, and set it to run every 5 minutes, using my web server (the same machine that serves this blog). You can find the code at github.com/konklone/fisa, along with instructions for setting it up yourself.
This new setup does more than check for changes and update a Twitter account — it also sends me an email and a text message so that I know an update just went out. This way, I can quickly figure out what changed and promptly add some human explanation of what the FISA Court just did [...]
For more details, please see the complete post.
Ogden describes dat as “a new initiative that seeks to increase the traction of the open data movement by providing better tools for collaboration.”
In the dat readme, Ogden uses as examples two types of legal data: municipal crime data, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ floor proceedings in XML. So in Ogden’s view, dat can be useful for managing legal data.
Derek Willis has a new post describing dat and its usefulness for open government data.
Ben Balter has a new post commenting on dat.