Budget ins and outs

Budget ins and outs

Organisation: Mwazna (Egypt)

Publication Date: 04/03/2016


Size of team/newsroom:small



Mwazna is a platform to open Egyptian state government budget for everyone The last decade was all about “Informed Citizens”, currently, the shift is steering toward “Monitorial Citizens”: informed and proactively engaged public. Their ideal ecosystem is composed of government, citizens and technology. A government that gets citizens involved in the governance process where technology and the internet provide an excellent medium where such transactions can take place. In Egypt, emerging/failing democracies and countries in transition, there’s a fundamental lack of data supplied by the government to the public. Financial data, in particular, are scarce, difficult to grasp and need a larger context to be well-understood. Besides, understanding this information is essential for public interaction with government and agenda setting. The primary stakeholders in this domain lack creative and technical skills to turn dull data into something interactive and appealing. There’s a drastic lack of tools that enable these stakeholders to build quick solutions without reinventing the wheel. Data visualisation is becoming key to understanding significant problems and simplifying it to the public, interactive maps and infographics are changing how we digest information. This project aims to be an open platform to open government budget to everyone. It aims at empowering two different segments, the average citizen and open data advocates and researchers. We at Mwazna, converted the 161 pages-long financial statement released by the government to a simple, easy to understand and interactive experience free of jargon targeting the average citizen. Also, we gave access to researches to a machine readable format of this data so they can re-use it in any form they wish. Within a minute of browsing, you’ll learn about the most important and fundamental questions: Where’s money coming from? Where it’s being spent? What areas benefit the most from it? What’s each individual estimate of that spending? The bigger vision it to become an enabler for anyone who wants to do that in their country by converting this into an open source platform to open government budget to everyone In practice, it will be an out of the box open-source platform that anyone can use to feed government data, and it will generate the necessary visualizations and transform it to a more machine-readable format.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

Innovation is -by definition- the process of translating an idea into something that creates value. That's’ what we exactly did. We looked in a problem of why the average citizen has no idea about how to capture the larger picture of where does most of Egypt’s money come from and where does it go. This was not entirely due to lack of data but because it’s not a very fun subject and the existing data are not open/reusable. General questions like how much do we spend on health or youth usually went unanswered and required great deal of search and digging deep into documents. We wanted to create an eye-candy experience that delivers high-level answers to these questions so an average citizen would within a minute learn about these areas very quickly and either dig deeper in the future or remain informed at the present. Innovation creates empowering opportunities and by opening this data we democratize access to information as we enable any researcher to use this data immediately and make something better than we did, without re-inventing the wheel.

Technologies used for this project:

Ruby on Rails/Javascript/Google Charts/Excel/HTML5
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