Building a Govdirectory

Which Swedish municipalities have YouTube accounts?

Sometime in 2016 I got the idea of building a website that would display all the social media channels for all Swedish public agencies. The idea popped in my mind as I was learning the flexibility and power of Wikidata. But my confidence in the more advanced tooling to edit it was low, so I put this in the backlog to revisit later since it felt like a huge task.

Unlocking the idea

Five years, almost 50 live streams of editing Wikidata, a won contest, and about 70 Wikidata meetups later, when the announcement of the Unlock accelerator by Wikimedia Deutschland flew into my Twitter feed, not only did I feel more confident, I also had a potential collaborator. So I pitched the idea to Albin Larsson, my co-host of the live streams, but this time on a global scale, not only for Sweden. The idea at this stage was bold and simple:

a global directory of all government agencies and their online presences

We now also knew that by using Wikidata, we could show even more information than only social media. The accelerator program is unusual in that it doesn’t aim to create a startup and make a profit, instead it aims to enable a social impact on the world. The theme this year, (Re)building trust in the digital age, felt really fitting. We worked on an application and short thereafter we were accepted and in a sprint. The first sprint was really great, with the help of our coach Fabian Gampp we took our somewhat technical idea into a purpose driven project by forming a vision and a mission that extended way beyond the technology. Even though we had some ideas of what this could be used for when writing the application, it was still somewhat fleeting in our minds. Our ambitions became these:

Vision

Our vision is a world where people are empowered to engage with their government to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.

Mission

We will enable a community powered directory where the online presence of every public organization is easily findable, queryable and trustworthy.

Early days

We are still in the midst of the accelerator program, and just published the midterm report. If you want to give us feedback on our early version at govdirectory.org it would be valuable to us. If you would like to help us even further, check our contributing file on GitHub for improvements on the website and our project page on Wikidata for improving the data displayed in it.

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