Michael McDonald has launched a new project seeking to increase transparency and participation in the redistricting process. It’s called Public Mapping.
McDonald is professor of Public and International Affairs at my old university, George Mason University in Virginia.
The cool thing about his project is that he’s developed software for the public that lets you play with different districting scenarios, somewhat akin to ArcGIS’ Districting tool, but without the need to have access to GIS. The goal is to give access to the tools to ordinary citizens.
I’ve played with the prototype and we plan to partner with Prof. McDonald for Georgia data (right now only 2000 Ohio data has been populated in the tool). This is only in the planning stage but we’re hoping to be set up for when the Census starts releasing its redistricting data in February. The first TIGER/Line shapefiles will be released on Monday, 29th November, 2010–to my knowledge the first post-census data of any sort! (NB TIGER/Line files don’t contain demographic data, but are critical boundary files as they contain block-level geographies.)