Community radar is an early start for Finland’s municipal elections which are held on April 2017. Community radar was published about six months before the elections. Its objective is to get people think about the matters of their home town.
Community radar gives reader a summary about town’s vitality, economy, health care, and atmosphere. However it also serves those who want more specific information about the indicators: for example how much town has loan per each inhabitant or how many schools there are in the town. In addition Community radar gives reader information about how the neighbour towns are doing on the same indicators.
Ratings are based on indexes which were made with experts from 40 different variables gathered from different sources. Each one of almost 300 towns have their own unique outlook, text and social media share text.
The original idea was to do something influential before the Finnish municipal elections. The makers wanted to bring municipal matters close to the readers and make an application that makes data that can be hard to understand more approachable.
Data was gathered mainly from Statistics Finland, Finnish Patent and Registration Office, Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finnish National Board of Education and Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. In addition Google Maps was used.
One coder, one graphic artist, two reporters and also several reporters from Yle’s regional offices.
The application was made in five months. The project started in summer 2016 and was finished in the end of October 2016.
Community radar is a remarkable story for the sake of municipal democracy as the meaning of the story was to increase people’s interest in the state of their home towns and municipal elections of spring 2017.
Community radar proved that municipality matters are not as boring as they are generally thought of – the application was one of the popular articles on Yle News website in 2016 and got was cited numerous times in other media in Finland. Many officials and municipalities also referred to it.
Community radar raised people’s knowledge about their town’s state. The additional value of the application is that before it municipal data has never been dealt with as comprehensively and approachable as in Community radar.
The whole data which was used in story was published as open data after publishing.
The main obstacle was that there was not full data from all Finnish municipalities as it was not available or even gathered. In addition It was a challenge to combine data which was gathered from different sources as the datasets did not have for example same year or municipality structure.
Overall the project was huge so the making process had to be planned carefully and systematically. Every municipality had their own personal text and outlook and the different regional offices of Yle took part in making of them. It was a challenge to coordinate every nine regional offices.
Generally it was challenging to make distinctive and successful story/application from dry data. In addition it was a minor obstacle to make the indexes and make a method to represent the different ranks and towns in a versatile way.