Phillip Smith

Canadian Democracy Geeks: Free MP Postal Code Lookup service now available

Exciting to (finally) see a freely available Web service for looking up Member of Parliament in Canada based on a postal code.

Historically, the various licensing costs and restrictions on the data required to support this service made it hard to provide as a "free as in free beer" service to organizations that wanted to make use of the data in advocacy applications and so on.

It seems those barriers have been lowered, as Cory Horner from the How'd They Vote team announces the service and speaks to the licensing questions:

I am pleased to present, at long last, a Postal Code to Member of Parliament web service:

http://howdtheyvote.ca/news.php?i=free-postal-code-lookup-service

Sadly the raw data cannot be shared, but fortunately the terms of the licence dictate that its use in a web service is permitted.

Russell McOrmond, a pioneer in this area, pressed Cory about lookups based on geolocation, i.e., enabling an end-user to click on a map and receive information on their Member of Parliament (made difficult by the nature of riding boundaries). And it appears that Cory has added that functionality to the API also, so that latitude and longitude can be used instead of postal code in the API query.

The geeky among you might want to also know that the service using PostGIS as the spatial database.

Exciting times in Canada, as geeks start to put the Web services in place to enable more democracy-enabling technology.

(Thanks to Civic Access for the info.)

About

Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.

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