Capitol Code In 3 Minutes

Did you miss Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam? Or do you want to relive that day? Watch the recap video and experience that day in 3 minutes!

Capitol Code in the Press

It has only been four days, but already coverage from the media and bloggers is flooding in about this weekend’s Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam!

Capitol Code Projects

By: Bill Bushey & Laura Andersen

We would like to thank Tech.MN for recording and posting videos of the final project presentations, which are linked to below.


A tool to help plan outdoor trips, such as to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, based on entry points, length of visit, desired physical rigor, etc…, using data from the Department of Natural Resources Data Deli, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and OpenStreetMap.

Civic Social Media Finder

Aggregation of legislators’ social media profiles, including Twitter, Facebook, LInkedIn, etc. in one place. Created a social media spreadsheet hosted on Google that can updated by the public, and a Github repository for a demo application that maps spreadsheet data.

Immigration to MN Visualization

Cleaned and matched-up data to produce visualizations showing the most common countries of origin for immigrants moving to Minnesota between 1990 and 2010. Uses Immigration Data from the State Demographic Center.


Voter engagement tool that confirms voter registration status and provides detailed information about ones’ representatives and upcoming elections. Combines data from the Polling Place Finder (DownloadAPI), Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate membership data, Office of the Secretary of State Voter Registration Status lookup, and the Civic Social Media Finder’s social media map.

People of Color MN

Promoting and Supporting People of Color in Business in Minnesota

  • Online tools for reaching and encouraging the diversity of incoming population
  • Develop pipeline by matching constituents with economic development opportunities
  • Create and provide mentoring from resident entrepreneurs and business professional

Public Data Ecosystem

System architecture for a state wide public data ecosystem, including an “API Store” that allows developers to find all publicly available government APIs in the state, and a portal containing templates that end users can apply to APIs to view human consumable displays of publicly available government APIs.

The Trojan Horse Radish

Mapping tool aggregating food resources in Minnesota. People can find where their food comes from to make informed choices about what they eat. Mashes up data from the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department Agriculture, and MetroGIS.

Voter Registration

Mashed up data from the voter registration by precinct dataset (downloadAPI) with Census data, and created a project plan to help community organizers and political activists identify underrepresented, unregistered voters in order to direct registration and political action activities.

Voter Wait Time

Project proposal to build a technology that allows voters at the polling place to report via text how long they have waited to vote, allow citizens to see what the wait time is at their polling place, and allow administrators to see average wait times across precincts.

Participant Post: Capitol Code and the Public Data Ecosystem

By: Roxanne Johnson

Yesterday I attended Capitol Code: an Open Data
Jam put on by the Secretary of State’s Office. The event was focused on
showcasing the possibilities of using public data to solve community problems,
drive innovation and entrepreneurship, and make information more accessible to
residents of Minnesota.

After a kick-off from Mark Ritchie, about 12 people pitched ideas of projects
to work on for the day. People pitched ideas like an app to tell people how
long their wait at the poll is going to be on election day, collecting social
media feeds for state legislators all in one place, mapping boundary water
canoe trips, and more. The group I ended up in was interested in collecting all
of the public data in the state in one place and making a kind of data gateway.

Our group ended up being three groups that partially merged; the data gateway
idea, an idea to use web applications for data visualizations, and making a
visual application that showed where our tax dollars go. We were tasked with
presenting our work at the end of the day and telling the larger group about
our problem, solution, work, data, and team bios. Our problem: public data in
Minnesota is not all in one place and in an accessible format.

Almost immediately we identified two major subproblems to our problem: the
problem for the state of hosting accessible data in one place, and the problem
for end users (in this case developers), which is how to find out about and get
access to the data available in a useful format.

After a bit of discussion, we decided to be two separate groups each working on
a subproblem, but together. One group focused on the more back-end problem of
collecting, hosting, and cataloging the data. The second group worked on an
idea of making a template for front-end analytics that would allow developers
to visualize the data more easily to see trends or just explore the data set.

Somewhere in our work, we grabbed onto the idea of the ecosystem- Bill Bushey
had used the word early in the day while talking about the vast system of data
the Census Bureau operates. The framework of an ecosystem of public data
allowed solutions to our two problems to fit into a bigger system together.
This system became a kind of elegant solution to the larger problem: making
data available and accessible in one place allows developers to use the data
easily and then share the data or lessons learned from the data with the public
taxpayers who financed the data collection. Having a single “store” to get data
from allows the state, who hosts the store, to gather analytics on data usage,
which can better inform future data collection and dissemination, which makes
things even easier for developers to do more in the future.

Since ecosystems work in loops, we decided to use Prezi in our presentation
back to the large group. Prezi allowed us to show the whole system and zoom in
to talk about details of each part and then show how the parts connect to the
larger system. You can find our Prezi

While other groups made applications or websites, we made a conceptual
framework that shows a cohesive way to think about a system of public data in
Minnesota. This framework allows us to see that a healthy system where each
piece is designed within the larger context of the system cold maximize the
benefit we gain from collecting the data in the first place. Increased access
and usability means that more people with different perspectives can use the
data to answer more diverse questions, leading to more complete knowledge and
increased engagement.

This framework also allows us to identify where the barriers are; in the
presentation Q&A, Dave answered a question about why this system hasn’t been
implemented yet by saying that the problem is probably not technical. It could
be political or organizational; in our discussion we had talked about how
creating this system requires champions to work across agencies, departments,
and the legislature.

I’m not a super technical person and I have to admit there were times that I
got lost in the conversations about APIs and the Javascript D3 library. That
said, I love working with conceptual frameworks, understanding the big picture
system, and connecting what individual experts say about their pieces of a
complex system. I also enjoy using tools, like Prezi, that have the
functionality to highlight the interconnectivity that we identified in the
system. I had a lot of fun with our group and felt like we each contributed
very different things, which I like to think of as a mini-version of what we
identified to be as necessary to build this kind of integrated, healthy public
data ecosystem.

Some of the cool examples we looked at:

This post was originally posted on Open Twin Cities

Presentation Requirements

Teams that have worked together during Capitol Code will be asked to make a short presentation (3 minutes, plus 2 for questions) at the end of the event so that all participants and the public will get a chance to see what everybody worked on. This presentation should consist of no more than five slides or pages that illustrates or describes:

  • the problem being solved;
  • the solution being proposed;
  • the work your team completed;
  • the data being used and how it’s being used;
  • and short bios for each of your team members.

If you have something you would like to demo, feel free to do that as well in your three minutes.

Ideation Jam this Wednesday

Join us on Wednesday, February 12 for the Capitol Code Ideation Jam at DevJam Studios.

Representatives from the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Demographer’s Office, MN.IT, Minnesota City Council, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Open Twin Cities will be on site to share information about the data they’ll be providing for Capitol Code Open Data Jam on February 22.

This is your chance to:

  • Meet fellow Capitol Code participants
  • Learn about the data you’ll be working with
  • Begin brainstorming ideas for the main event

If you haven’t already, you can register now.

Capitol Code Ideation Jam
Wednesday, February 12 / 5:30-7:30 PM
SoMakers at DevJam Studios
818 46th St. W
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Street and lot parking available. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

See you Wednesday!

We’ve Added Some FAQs

Got questions about Capitol Code? Hopefully we have answers for you in our new FAQs page. As more details are finalized leading up to the event, we’ll add more questions and answers to the page, and we’ll update the blog to let you know.


What do I need to bring?
Bring yourself, a computer, charger, perhaps some pens and paper for ideation, and some friends!
Will there be food? (Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten-free? Dairy-free?)
Yes. Lunch, a light breakfast, and afternoon snacks will be provided. Be sure to fill out the Dietary Requests question when RSVPing, or contact the event organizers, to let us know of any food needs you have.
Do I have to pay for parking?
Some free street parking will be available around CoCo Uptown, but it will probably fill up quickly, so get there early.
CoCo recommends participants use the Calhoun Square Ramp, located 2.5 blocks west on Lake Street. Calhoun Square Ramp provides all day parking for $11.
We also encourage participants to carpool or use public transportation to get to and from the event. OMG Transit (a civic technology project born out of a previous Twin Cities jam), is a great resource for finding information on buses, Car2Go, and other transit options in the Twin Cities.
Is it okay if I can’t be there the whole day?
The event will open with some important background information and presentations about the data, and will close with demos and judging. We hope you can be here for the entire event, but as long as someone from your team is present, all will be good.
What does the Registration Agreement mean?
The only requirement that the Registration Agreement is placing on event attendees is to grant the SoS a nonexclusive license to access and use things built at the event. Because it is nonexclusive, you and your team are still free to do anything else with the code (as long as it doesn’t require exclusivity), including open sourcing it with whatever license you wish. In fact, I plan on encouraging participants to use open source/creative commons licenses with whatever they produce, and Open Twin Cities plans to catalog Capitol Code projects along with other civic tech projects happening locally, in the hopes that future civic tech folks will work contribute to the projects.
A little bit of background: because of the source of funding used to sponsor this event, MN law requires that OSS have access to tangible products of the event. We originally thought of placing an open source requirement on participants as a way to meet this requirement, but we realized that forcing participants to use an open source license is actually a bit un-open source.
Will I have to present something?
Teams that have worked together during Capitol Code will be asked to make a short presentation at the end of the event so that all participants will get a chance to see what everybody worked on. This presentation should consist of no more than five slides or pages that illustrates the problem being solved, the solution being proposed, your team’s creation, the data being used and how it’s being used, and short bios for each of your team members. This will be shared publicly and posted on the Capitol Code site after the event.

Ideas and Teams

Do I have to have an idea before I come?
Not at all, but it’s highly recommended you stop by the Ideation Social Jam on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, from 5:30-7:30pm at SoMakers at DevJam Studios, 818 46th St in Minneapolis, to meet with some of the agencies supplying data, to meet your fellow Capitol Coders, and start brainstorming. It’s also recommended that you vote on, comment on, and submit project ideas on Capitol Code’s IdeaScale community.
Are teams set before the event? Or at the event?
Participants will have time in the morning during the event to form teams based on their interests in project ideas. It’s alright if you come to the event with a team, but we encourage you to be open to other participants joining your team during the event.
How big should a team be?
There are not going to be any rules placed on how big or small a team can be. Based on previous jams though, we do recommend that participants form teams of 4 to 6 people with varied backgrounds and skills.
Can I work alone?
It’s not required that you work in a team, but it is suggested so that you can maximize time and collaborate with folks with varied skillsets.


Can I use data from sources not listed on the Capitol Code site?
Please be sure to use at least one data source listed on the Capitol Code site in some capacity. Mashups of multiple data sources, including data sources not provided at Capitol Code, are more than encouraged. Think big!

Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam

You’re Invited —

Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam • February 22, 2014

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State and its partners are proud to invite you to Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam, to help build the Minnesota of the 21st century using public data — and your ideas.

All citizens are welcome to generate ideas and solutions alongside analysts, business and community leaders, designers, government officials, media, software innovators and others.


Capitol Code: An Open Data Jam is a one-day event driven by passionate and engaged citizens given the opportunity to explore and drive solutions using public data from the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Participants are called on to apply existing technologies or build new applications using public data.

The Capitol Code public data sets available are related to voting and elections, such as polling place data and election results, as well as information from the office’s Business Services Division.

“Public data is a tremendous resource for Minnesotans, and I’m excited to see the innovation, new business and employment opportunities that can be generated by using this information.” – Secretary of State Mark Ritchie


9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday, February 22.


CoCo Uptown
1010 W. Lake St., Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 345 – 4201


CoCo recommends participants use the Calhoun Square Ramp, located 2.5 blocks west on Lake Street. Limited, free street parking can also be found around CoCo.


Minnesota needs your ideas, energy, diverse perspectives and skills to ignite innovation that can result in great solutions for our communities.