So how much does Greek Local Government really spend? Find out on an interactive map

diavgeia_maps_enAnd where else would a better place be, you may ask. If you head over to Diavgeia Spending Maps and after you hit the “It’s all Greek to me” button (Aren’t I a clever boy – get the pun?) you should be able to query spending data for every municipality in Greece for a time period of your choosing. Make sure to check the FAQ first.

Data is coming from the Greek Government’s “Transparency  Portal” (“Diavgeia” stands for transparency in Greek)

This has been my toy project for a bit now trying to work on it on my spare time. This is the first release. Do have a play and let me know what you think. If you want more details on how it was done, read on.

The background

Under the Greek Transparency Program initiative, beginning October 1st, 2010, all government institutions are obliged to upload their acts and decisions on the “Transparency Portal”. In fact, NO administrative act or decision is valid unless published on this portal. More info here.

challenge_accepted_barneyThe good folks at the Ministry of Administrative Reform and e-Governance who run this portal, have also provided an API so external apps can use their data. Now, although there were some external sites utilizing the API, none of them had any maps. So I raised to the challenge. In a nutshell, the app makes subsequent calls to the API, one for each municipality, for decisions and acts relating to spending data and simply adds them together. The result is the total amount spent and its the value used to color the map.

There are two -or three very important caveats here – at least in this first version:

The API will only return a maximum of 500 results per query. This means that if -for the date range you selected- the municipality has issued more than 500 decisions relating to spending, the total amount shown for this municipality will be incorrect. However, one can get around it by selecting shorter time periods. In any case the application will report on the number of results returned as well as the number of actual results for each query so you should be able to know if all data was included.

The second is more serious, and in all probability due to my ignorance of the inner workings and processes within the municipalities and their interaction with the Transparency Portal.

To begin with, some of the decisions have a zero amount next to them. And that’s despite the fact that in some cases, even the title of the particular decision states the amount (which of course is not zero). At first I thought it was some sort of bug in my code, but no, it WAS the data stupid. I haven’t got the foggiest why this is.

On the other hand, I noticed that some decisions are duplicated. Exact same title and amount but different decision id. Again, not a clue.

I do intend to try and contact the Diavgeia people to find out but till then -and its plastered all over the site- do use the results with EXTREME caution. Results and total amounts are indicative and should be used for informational purposes only!

The technical bits

Diavgeia Spending Maps was developed using Leaflet (based on the Interactive Choropleth Map example) and jQuery. Controls were based on the JQuery UI tools. Data was returned in Json format. Administrative boundaries were downloaded from as a single shapefile and converted to GeoJson after some generalization to reduce in size.

Greek Version