Thursday, August 11, 2011
Join the Competition to Fix Philly Districts
Every 10 years, the Government collects census information. The most recent 2010 Census data is then taken and analyzed. Municipalities across the country use the data to better understand its neighborhoods.
For us, here in the ever-evolving landscape of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, that means redistricting. The Philadelphia City Charter mandates that within six months of the release of the census data, the City Council must meet and decide on the new boundaries. Though the new boundaries aren’t put into effect until 2015, and are open to changes over the next four years, the lines must be drawn.
This year, a computer program called Fix Philly Districts has been made public to our area, giving everyone the tools and information needed to create their own rendition of the boundaries.
Azavea, the company behind the program in collaboration with Newsworks, Penn Project for Civic Engagement, Philly.com and The Daily News are calling for participants in a contest to “Fix Philly Districts.”
The contest ends on August 28 and winners will be announced in early September. There are prizes for the winner, provided by the programs sponsors and all of that information is available here.
Members of Philadelphia’s City Council including Bill Green, Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Freshman, Mark Squilla were at a public orientation for the program and the competition earlier this week at WHYY.
Quinones-Sanchez promised to do her part in getting the winning maps in front of Council. So there’s a real possibility that a new map could help to change the face of Philadelphia.
There are many factors to take into consideration when “fixing” Philadelphia’s districts. Some are social, many are political and others are fiscal. But for the pure exercise of attempting to do what Philadelphia’s City Council seems to unsuccessfully do each and every decade, this program lets you give it a go.
The program seems most comparable to Photoshop, so with some basic computer skills, jumping into the competition either solo or within a group is a real possibility. For those not so familiar with computer programs, there are training webinars scheduled.
Those interested in giving the program a try, just for fun or for the competition should check it out at fixphillydistricts.com.