Decide for Your Canton News Application

Decide for Your Canton News Application

Organisation: La Nación (Costa Rica) (Costa Rica)

Publication Date: 04/06/2016

Size of team/newsroom:large


Decide for your canton is an interactive news app that emerged with one goal: providing voters in the Municipal Election with all the possible public information on the 605 mayor candidates in the nation. In it you can enquire on the court record of every one of the candidates of your interest in the 81 cantons of Costa Rica and to learn the reasons why a group of them have been taken to court, have been convicted, or have settled to avoid a court ruling. Also, you will find in detail those cases in which the General Comptrollership of the Republic found unavoidable punishing another group of candidates because of misconducts in public office. All of that information is compared with the version on those facts provided by those alluded. The application also reveals the candidates who have outstanding debts with the Costa Rican Social Security Institution. In addition, it is made evident which candidates have experience in public positions and for how long they have done it. Finally, you will be able to explore their curricula and proposal of a government plan.With each candidate’s profile, you will find a profile of your canton. In the latter, there is a detailed rating from 1 to 100 that your community received in the 10 areas and services which had the most impact on the quality of life in the last five years. This project demanded the building of six different databases. It includes two follows up: an interactive app with the results of elected mayors and a second one with their priorities of government ( 73 of 81 mayors accepted to be interviewed by this daily. Their answers were processed in a database and further publication was done on that basis. In addition, this project includes an interactive site with all the data visualizations, videos and print coverage of the whole municipal elections process. ( Data compilation started in October 2015 with the manual input of the database with the name, party, and I.D. number of the candidates approved by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in PDF format. Simultaneously, the political parties were contacted to request information on their candidates: the curriculum and government plan of each candidate. Court cases. La Nación submitted to the Ministry of Public Prosecution all of the 605 candidates, in order to review, in every Public Prosecution office, their records on complaints investigated, outdated, or filed. The information thus gathered became a database with every candidate’s version. Default. The information on debts with social security stems from an automatic enquiry made to the registry of defaulting employers at the Costa Rican Social Security Administration). Through a computer process of data mining, the status of all of the 650 mayor candidates was reviewed. Comptroller’s penalty. In an additional chapter of this investigation, there was a review of the administrative penalties imposed by the General Comptrollership of the Republic.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

“Decide for Your Canton” is an application which enables electors to learn who the mayor candidates are in three simple steps. This was the only tool in Costa Rica which compiled that amount of information on the hopefuls in a detailed, visual friendly and easy-to-navigate manner. This application enabled citizens to learn who the candidates for mayor in their canton were and to obtain from a brief profile of the hopeful to more important details, such as if they were indicted, if there were any administrative sanctions against the candidate, and about the quality of his proposals. This was done in a fast and simple way from a cell phone, a tablet or a computer. Shaping this application involved meticulous work. It started with the gathering of information, since most of it was not available in a digital form and was scattered in seven public institutions and 59 political parties. In order to obtain photographs, government programs, and the curricula of candidates, it became necessary to call and seek more than 300 people. Once the information was collected, it was consolidated in different data bases, where it was cleaned-up until the version required to feed the application was attained. Said worksheets were made public and available for downloading when the special was released. Based on the data collected, 25 publications on the municipal elections were made in the print and digital issues of La Nación. Also, two micro-sites were created, one with different interactive content and visualizations of the data accompanying the news items (; and the other one ( which featured the profile of the 81 mayors who won in the February 7, 2016 election and their commitments for their first year of government .

Technologies used for this project:

To build the application, programming languages such as HTML5, CSS3, ParallaxJS, Modernizr JS, JSON, AJAX, SVG, Jquery, JS, AnimateNumber JS were used. Use of tools: Brackets, After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Pngyu App, Sketch App, Invision App, paper and pencil. For data management, the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition x 64 bits was used as the lead database manager system. In the generation of the HTML which enabled loading the data in the interactive site, Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio (SSIS) was used as a platform which allowed generating high-performance data-integration solutions, among which packs for mining, transforming and loading data were included. Meanwhile, data analysis was carried out with Google Spreadsheets, Excel and Stata 13. To convert PDF to csv, PDF2XL | CogniView and Tabula were used.


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