Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Free Congressional Redistricting Tool Ready

I'm nervous about releasing this into the wild. There are bugs, but I think it's good enough now to let you all check it out. So, as promised a few days ago, here is my Redistricting App. With it you can create congressional districts the way you think they should be. It currently only supports Florida, Texas and Washington, but I'll get more states on line soon, especially those that stand to gain or lose seats after 2010. My last 2 diaries show examples of what you can do with the tool. The Redistricting App page gives a quick rundown of the features and a link to a more detailed Help page. Main Features include:
  • Select state and number of congressional districts (CDs)
  • Use mouse to sweep across map and assign block groups to CDs (block groups usually contain about 4 voting districts; using the larger size makes things more manageable)
  • Pan/Zoom
  • Save/Open your work in XML (saved in isolated storage)
  • Use 2000 census numbers or updated census estimates
  • Show/Unshow city, county and old CDs
  • Create area maps of zoomed in areas
  • Save state and area maps in XML (Separate Windows app can read this and produce JPGs; Silverlight won't allowing saving as JPGs directly; an app is available for download; XML schema also is available)
  • Requires Silverlight 2.0 (runs on Windows and Mac)
  • To get JPGs you have to run a separate Windows-only tool, due to limitations in Silverlight. Check the help page for more details.
  • Loading data for a state from the server is slow, because the data is large, but after that the app is fast and does not go back to the server.
I've worked on this part time over the 5 or 6 months since the election. I've tried maps of 3 states, reworked a lot and come up with this. I certainly have fun playing Redistricter myself. Hopefully you will, too. And maybe this can be useful in helping you make choices in redistricting battles in the future. So, let me know what you think. There's an email address on the main page for more detailed feedback and suggestions. And I'll keep you posted when more states come on line.