Announcing the Library of Congress Congressional Data Challenge

Today we launch a Congressional Data Challenge, a competition asking participants to leverage legislative data sets on congress.gov and other platforms to develop digital projects that analyze, interpret or share congressional data in user-friendly ways.

“There is so much information now available online about our legislative process, and that is a great thing,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “But it can also be overwhelming and sometimes intimidating. We are asking citizen coders to explore ways to analyze, interpret or share this information in user-friendly ways. I hope this challenge will spark an interest in the legislative process and also a spirit of information sharing by the tech-savvy and digital humanities pioneers who answer the call. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.” 

Illustration of U.S. Capitol Building

The Congressional Data Challenge will run from 19 October 2017 through 02 April 2018

Your submission could take the form of interactive visualizations, mobile or desktop applications, a website or other digital creations. Entries will be evaluated based on three criteria: usefulness, creativity and design. Entries are due April 2, 2018, and must be submitted through the challenge.gov platform. The final submission should include a 2-minute demonstration video, the data sources used, and statement of benefits. Source code is required to be published and licensed as CC0. For rules and additional information, visit Library of Congress Labs Experiments page.

The Library of Congress will award $5,000 for the first prize and $1,000 for the best high school project, with other criteria under consideration for honorable mentions. It might help you to look at the NEH “Chronicling America” data challenge winners for inspiration in how innovators of all ages have looked at data in a new way.

To inspire thinking, Library staff envisioned outcomes such as :

  • A visualization of the legislative process using legislative data;
  • Tools that could be embedded on congressional and public websites;
  • A legislative matching service to identify members of Congress with similar legislative interests;
  • Tools to improve accessibility of legislative data;
  • A web-based display connecting Library digital collection items with related legislative activities.

“We are expecting submissions from a range of groups – from journalists to those working in civic tech, as well as high school teams,” Library of Congress Chief Information Officer Bud Barton explained. “This challenge is an opportunity to match creativity with impact, using the data made available from Congress.gov.”

Congress.gov is the official source for federal legislative information. A collaboration among the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Publishing Office, Congress.gov is a free resource that provides searchable access to bill status and summary, bill text, member profiles, the Congressional Record, committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative process videos, committee profile pages and historic access reaching back as far as 1973.

You can also get your feet wet with bulk data sets from Congress.gov on the recently launched Library of Congress Labs LC for Robots page. LC Labs hosts a changing selection of experiments, projects, events and resources designed to encourage creative use of the Library’s digital collections.

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