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Judge Evaluation Form

Details

Team Members:
Greg Baugues

Website:
www.bellevillelaw.com

Platform:
Web Application

Location:
Belleville, IL

Category:
Civic Engagement

Data Sets:

 







Belleville Code is a centralized easy-to-navigate website where over one-thousand pages of PDFs containing the Revised City Ordinances of Belleville is located, whereby allows the community of Belleville the opportunity to learn and discuss the laws that govern their land.

belleville-code

How did you us the data set(s) in your Submission?

I wrote several scripts that scraped over 1000 pages of PDFs and then used pattern matching to parameterize the data into numbers, titles, body, lists, etc. This data was then uploaded into a postgresql which powers the app.

What problem/challenge is your Submission helping to solve, and how?

Buried at the bottom of the Belleville City Clerk’s webpage are 70 PDFs containing the city’s revised ordinances. One of these PDFs, the Zoning Ordinance, is 112 pages alone. There is no easy way to search, navigate, or discuss these documents. I programmatically extracted the information from these PDFs, and put them on the web and added user commenting to allow for two-way communication between those who write the law and those who must abide by it.

What community members will your Submission help serve, and how will they be impacted?

Making this information easily available lowers the friction of starting a business, or constructing a new building. If you would like to start a restaurant, pawn shop, antique shop, tattoo parlor, jewelry store, or laundromat, you should know that there are specific ordinances governing those kinds of establishments. You can find those within two clicks of the home page here. If you are an electrician, or plumber, or homeowner, you can find those ordinances within a single click. 

I built the site using SEO best practices, so within a month or two anyone searching for “Belleville City Ordinance X” will easily find what they are looking for, and won’t have to call the city clerk’s office for information. 

I also added discussions, to start conversations around the fairness and usefulness of each ordinance, and so that those who are affected by the law can solicit questions from peers and from city officials.

How do you envision city and/or state government utilizing your Submission to make a positive impact on the Pilot Community of State of Illinois?

Philosophically speaking, well informed citizens make for a better community. How can citizens follow the law if they don’t know what the law is?

Practically speaking, I added commenting on each ordinance page so that officials can answer questions, gather feedback, and address concerns. Hopefully making these ordinances easy to find, easy to navigate and search optimized will alleviate strain from the City Clerk’s staff who currently field inquiries about these ordinances, allowing them more time for other productive tasks.

Fill out my online form.