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About Digital Democracy

  • About Digital Democracy

    Digital Democracy is a project of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy at the California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. This free online platform offers a searchable database of state legislative committees hearings, allowing the user to search videos by keyword, topic, speaker, organization or date. Digital Democracy is a first-of-its-kind tool because it transcribes legislative hearing videos and makes them available in their searchable entirety. These data rich transcripts represent an entirely new universe of information previously unavailable to the public. A robust database of all speakers tracks individual participants’ testimony and positions, as well as other essential information such as campaign donation and gift histories. Digital Democracy also offers complete text, history and other information on all bills introduced before the state legislature, as well and legislative bill analyses and information on upcoming legislative hearings.

    This project is pushing beyond the technical challenges of providing mere access to information, instead focusing on how this new data set can be meaningfully interpreted and acted upon by individual citizens and grassroots organization to achieve effective action. Tools within the system allow a user to quickly and easily search, locate, view, clip, and share this information and opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The video clips provide dynamic content for citizen activists, community organizers, traditional journalists as well as online media outlets, bloggers, educators, researchers, professional associations, and government watchdogs.

  • About The Institute

    The Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy opened its doors on the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo campus in 2012. Founded and directed by former California State Senator and Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee, Ph.D., the mission of the non-partisan, interdisciplinary organization is to develop practical solutions to societal issues by informing and driving public policy through advanced technology. Teams of Cal Poly faculty and students, together with public policy leaders and industry experts, create and promote answers to some of the world's most intractable challenges.

    The Institute has focused on developing three core projects in the areas of government reform, education, and energy. These projects are designed to highlight Cal Poly’s unique Learn by Doing approach to problem solving, showcase the Institute’s versatility, and provide concrete examples of the type of innovative public policy work that can be undertaken here at Cal Poly. Additionally, the Institute has created an advisory board of highly respected leaders with deep expertise in the policy areas that are the current focus on Institute programs and projects.

    Support Digital Democracy

  • Advisory Board

    • Honorable Gavin Newsom
      Lieutenant Governor, State of California

      Throughout his 16-year career in public office, Newsom has championed innovative public policies on issues such as equality, the environment, homelessness, education, and healthcare. Newsom is an early adopter of innovative technologies noted for his trailblazing use of social media. He is dedicated to shifting the principles of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to the public sector

    • George Pratt Shultz
      Former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Labor

      Former secretary of labor, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, former secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of the Council on Economic Policy, former chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, and former secretary of state. As secretary of state, he played a key role in implementing a foreign policy that led to the successful conclusion of the Cold War. Schultz also negotiated a series of trade protocols with the Soviet Union, and represented the United States at the Tokyo meeting on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In 2001, Shultz was named the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

    • Charles T. Munger, Jr.
      Philanthropist

      Mr. Munger is a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Munger was the proponent of Propositions 11 and 20, two successful California ballot measures that created the Citizen Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative and congressional district boundaries. Munger has served as a member of California’s Curriculum Commission, an advisory commission of the state Board of Education.

    • Jack Scott
      Chancellor, California Community Colleges (Former); State Senator (Former)

      The Honorable Jack Scott is a former chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest system of higher education. As Chancellor from 2008-2012, Scott led the 112 colleges through some sweeping reforms. Prior to his selection as chancellor, Scott served two terms in the California State Senate, representing California’s 21st Senatorial District. Scott chaired the Senate Education Committee and also was vice chair of the State Allocation Board for Education. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1996 before moving on to the Senate.

    • Daniel G. Newman
      Co-founder and President, MapLight

      Daniel G. Newman is Co-founder and President of MapLight, whose groundbreaking database connects data on campaign contributions, politicians, legislative votes, industries, companies, and more to show patterns of influence never before possible to see. Newman has led MapLight from a 2005 start-up to an established national resource for citizens and journalist.

    • Dan Schnur
      Director, Jesse Unruh Institute at USC; Chairman California FPPC (Former)

      Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute at the University of Southern California and former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Schnur is also an adjunct instructor at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

    • Alissa Black
      Investment Principal, Omidyar Network

      Alissa’s role at Omidyar Network is to improve the relationship between citizens and government through driving sector-level change in government and the emerging civic technology ecosystem. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Alissa was director of the New America Foundation's California Civic Innovation Project. Black was previously government relations director at Code for America.

    • Carl Guardino
      President & CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

      Carl Guardino is President and chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and chairman of the California Transportation Commission. In February 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to a four-year term on the California Transportation Commission and was later reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown. In 2000, the San Jose Mercury News named Guardino one of the “Five Most Powerful” people in Silicon Valley in a once-per-decade study.

    • Laura Gómez
      Technology Entrepreneur
      Co-Founder Vyv

      Laura Gómez is the co-founder of Vyv, a tool to democratize and validate news content around the web through gamification. Gomez has held leadership positions at companies such as YouTube (Google), SearchRev (acquired by AKQA), Twitter, and Jawbone. Gomez was named by Forbes México one of the most Powerful Women in the country. A supporter of cultural and gender diversity in technology and entrepreneurship, Laura has been a judge at Startup Weekend, Startup World and mentor several startups around the world.

    • Delaney Hunter
      Principal, Gonzalez, Quintana & Hunter, LLC

      Ms. Hunter is a former director of governmental affairs for the California Public Utilities Commission 2005-2008. Hunter was responsible for managing the commission’s legislative agenda and political negotiations on key policies relative to energy, telecommunications, water, rail safety and other transportation-related issues. Hunter began her political career in the office of Sen. Bill Leonard and later as legislative director for the government relations firm of Smith & Kempton. Hunter is a principal with the Sacramento firm Gonzalez, Quintana & Hunter, LLC

    • Raul Deju
      Director, Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership, JFK University

      Dr. Raul Deju is Director of the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership and as Professor in the College of Professional Studies at JFK University. He is a former adjunct faculty member at JFK University and a seasoned executive who has served as Chairman, CEO or COO of major international public companies. Deju served on advisory committees for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. EPA Administrator and is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and four books.

    • Bob Vilhauer
      Vice President for Public Policy & Analysis, Boeing Co.

      Bob Vilhauer, former vice president for public policy and analysis at The Boeing Co. Vilhauer has 28 years of government relations experience in the aerospace, defense and commercial aviation industry, including business development, Congressional relations and third-party advocacy functions. He serves as a senior associate with the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, advising their International Security Program.

    • Al Montna
      Chairman, Farmers Rice Cooperative (Former)

      Montna served on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture from 1992 to 1999 under Governor Pete Wilson and again served from 2003 to 2010 as President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture under Governor Schwarzenegger. Montna also served as a member of the Bay Delta Authority under Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger.

    • Dian Grueneich
      Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission (Former)

      Grueneich is a former California Public Utilities Commission member and nationally recognized expert in energy and environmental issues. Grueneich has served as a board member of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and is past-president of the California League of Conservation Voters.

    • James Boyd
      Commissioner, California Energy Commission (Former)

      James D. Boyd is a former California Energy Commission member and former deputy secretary and chief of staff of the California Resources Agency. He created and chaired the state's first Joint Agency Climate Change Team and the state's Natural Gas Working Group. Boyd served for 15 years as chief executive officer of the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    • Mike Florio
      Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission

      Commissioner Florio is an appointed member of the California Public Utilities Commission since 2011. Prior to this appointment, Florio was a senior attorney at the Utility Reform Network, and served in that capacity since 1978. Florio also served on the board of governors of the California Independent System Operator from 1997 to 2005.

  • Project Team

    The Digital Democracy project was launched by Dr. Sam Blakeslee, a former California State Senator and the Founding Director of the Cal Poly Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy (IATPP), and IATPP Associate Director Christine Robertson, a former Chief of Staff in the California Assembly and Senate. The Institute’s multidisciplinary project team includes the following Cal Poly faculty and students:

    Institute Staff


    • Dr. Sam Blakeslee Founding Director
      Former California State
      Assemblyman and Senator

    • Christine Robertson Associate Director
      Former Chief of Staff,
      California State Legislature
    • Hans Poschman Student Fellowship Director
      Former District Director,
      California State Legislature

    • Richard Mersereau Visiting Scholar
      Former Director, California
      Assembly Office of Policy,
      Minority Caucus

    Project Faculty & Staff


    • Dr. Foaad Khosmood Institute Senior Research Fellow and Forbes Professor of Computer Engineering. Expert in computational stylistics, natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

    • Dr. Alex Dekhtyar Institute Faculty Scholar and Professor, Department of Computer Science. Expert in databases, data mining and bioinformatics.

    • Dr. Davide Falessi Institute Faculty Scholar and Professor, Department of Computer Science. Expert in software engineering and process management.

    • Toshihiro Kuboi Technical Coordinator, Lead Software Architect

    Strategic Digital Partner

    • Civicactions
      CivicActions has been a partner to Digital Democracy, contributing UX design, Drupal 8 architectural recommendations and overall digital strategy.
  • Endorsements

    • “Digital Democracy empowers every Californian with unprecedented access to their government. The result will be greater accountability.”

      Gavin NewsomLieutenant Governor, State of California

    • “Having been both a community activist and Speaker of the California State Assembly, I understand the challenge of keeping the public engaged in the democratic process. Real democracy cannot thrive if the only witnesses to the decision-making process are those wealthy enough to hire powerful lobbyists. Civic technologies like the new Digital Democracy platform can fundamentally change access to and engagement in government, putting power back in the hands of the public.”

      Karen BassCongresswoman and California Assembly Speaker (Former)

    • “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians. If we want Californians to become more involved in their government, one of the most important things we can do is make it easier for average citizens to access information about the work that their elected representatives are doing. Giving our state’s voters the ability to watch and listen to the way their policy concerns are being addressed in the State Capitol will be a huge step forward toward reengaging Californians in their own governance.”

      Dan SchnurDirector Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and FPPC Commissioner (Former)

    • “Converting the spoken word to accurate and searchable text is a significant technological challenge and is the focus of much work in the Silicon Valley. By unlocking the previously inaccessible and unsearchable video records of state government, Digital Democracy provides a powerful new resource that could be a game changer for public transparency and accountability.”

      Carl GuardinoPresident and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

    • “The current power distribution often means that the most vulnerable in our society – those who need the government to work for them the most – often have the least access and influence in the process. Digital Democracy puts a powerful tool into the hands of otherwise disenfranchised communities to be able to virtually track and search legislative discussions, and better advocate for their needs.”

      Marty OmotoExecutive Director, California Disability Community Action Network

    • “Digital Democracy will help me to inform and engage the thousands of Californians who I represent in Sacramento as we fight to protect the environment.”

      Dan JacobsonLegislative Director, Environment California

    • “As the CEO of a nonprofit child, youth and family services organization, it is essential for me to be aware of and engaged in the legislative, public policy arena. Not living close to Sacramento nor able to secure a lobbyist, Digital Democracy provides a front row seat, a one-stop-shop to view and monitor the inter-workings of the legislative process and the decisions being made which can have profound impact on the children, youth and families served by my organization. This tool will significantly help me to stay informed and focused on the advocacy needed to best serve our clients.”

      Jim RobertsFounder and CEO, Family Care Network Inc.

    • “The Institute’s Digital Democracy Tool is the perfect showcase for what can be accomplished by research institutes and the private sector if state and local governments make common sense data available to the public. California Forward believes that accessible public data is necessary for people to make informed decisions about public policy. This tool will bring voters closer to the decision makers in Sacramento and strengthen civic engagement.”

      Phillip UngDirector of Public Affairs, California Forward

    • “Cal Poly’s Digital Democracy project has the potential to bridge the divide between legislators in Sacramento and advocates and activists on the ground. Unfettered access to videos and transcripts of legislative hearings shed light on the political process for Californians through the state – no matter where you are located.”

      Leila PedersenState Policy Coordinator, California Common Cause

    • “Our success as a modern democracy requires that all residents have ready access to relevant, reliable, and useful information about the deliberations and decisions unfolding in their statehouses. The Digital Democracy platform breaks open a new vault of government data that has otherwise been virtually inaccessible to the public.”

      Autumn CarterExecutive Director, California Common Sense

    • “The video record of California legislative hearings is an important but often under utilized resource for the public to understand what’s happening in state government. I’m excited about the potential for Digital Democracy to unlock this important part of the public record and improve public participation in their representative government.”

      Walter HughesDirector of State Government Affairs, Comcast

    • “The Cal Poly Institute has created an excellent system to browse and search an array of lobbyists, elected officials and bills within the California State Legislative System. It is without question that a comprehensive website to access this information will both engage citizens while assisting legislative researchers. This website provides a transparent and comprehensive look into the financial influences of state legislators in addition to the bills of interest by
      lobbyists and lobbying firms.”

      Almis UdrysDirector of Government Affairs, Office of San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer

  • In the News

  • Funding Partners


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  • Data Partners


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  • About Our Data

    Terms of Service

    This site may contain links to Internet sites and services that are not operated by IATPP. These links are provided as a service and do not imply any endorsement of the activities or content of these sites or services, nor any association with their operators. IATPP does not control these Internet sites or services and is not responsible for their content, security, or privacy practices. Please review the privacy policy posted on web sites you visit before using the site or providing personal information.

    Data Sources

    California Hearing Video files:CalChannel

    California Bill and Committee information:California Legislative Information Website

    California Legislator Biographies, Contact information, and Photos:California State Assembly and Senate official member pages

    California Campaign Finance Data:MapLight

    California Gift Reporting Data:California Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700s

    California Lobbyist Data and Photos:California Secretary of State CalAccess Database

    California Legislative Analyst's Office Staff Photos:Legislative Analyst's Office Website

    New York Hearing Video files:New York Assembly website and Senate YouTube Channel

    New York Bill and Committee information:New York State Senate API

    New York Legislator Biographies, Contact Information, and Photos:New York State Assembly and Senate official member pages and Senate API

    New York Lobbyist Data:New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics

    New York Campaign Finance Data:National Institute for Money in State Politics

    Disclaimers

    The information and materials contained on this web site have been compiled from a variety of sources and, as such, are subject to change without notice. In no event will the Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy (IATPP) be liable for any damages, whether direct, indirect, general, consequential, incidental, exemplary or special, arising from the use of information provided on this site or through links to any other sites.

    Some content included in this web site may be provided as a courtesy of third parties, who may retain copyright control of the provided material. IATPP does not make any warranties or representations with respect to the content, quality, accuracy or completeness of any information or materials through links to other sites, including but not limited to: text, graphics, applications, databases, services, or any other information or materials. Nor shall IATPP assume any legal liability for the content, quality, accuracy or completeness of said information and materials.

    While we will make every effort to ensure that hearing transcripts and speaker identifications/affiliations are as accurate as possible, we cannot ensure 100 percent accuracy. Our system is subject to on-going improvements and transcripts may contain unintended errors.  In addition to audio or speaking quality, accuracy may vary depending on industry specific terms, acronyms, and/or unique or incomplete names used. If you encounter a data error within a transcript, please report the error through “Report Error” link on the page footer.

    Privacy Policy

    This privacy policy discloses the privacy practices for user accounts created on the website (https://www.digitaldemocracy.org). This privacy policy applies solely to account information collected by this web site. It will notify you of the following:

     

    • 1. What personally identifiable information is collected from you through the web site, how it is used and with whom it may be shared.
    • 2. What choices are available to you regarding the use of your data.
    • 3. The security procedures in place to protect the misuse of your information.
    • 4. How you can correct any inaccuracies in the information.

     

    Information Collection, Use, and Sharing

    We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site. We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via email or other direct contact from you in the creation and use of your personal Digital Democracy user account. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.

    The Digital Democracy team (DD) will use your information to send you email notifications matching any alerts you have created within your account, to send email updates about new site tools or features, and to respond to any contacts you make directly to the project team. DD will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as necessary to fulfill your request.

    We may contact you via email in the future to tell you about new tools or features, or changes to this privacy policy.

    Your Access to and Control Over Information

    You may opt out of any future contacts from us at any time. You can do the following at any time by logging in to your account on website to:

     

    • - Change/correct any account data we have about you.
    • - Delete any account data we have about you.

     

    Security

    We take precautions to protect your information. When you submit personal information such as your email and account password via the website, your information is protected both online and offline.

    Updates

    Our Privacy Policy may change from time to time and all updates will be posted on this page.

    User Accounts

    The DD team is working to continuously enhance the system and increase security and performance. As such user passwords could be reset from time to time. We ask that users make sure they have a correct email on file at all times so that they could request a new password if needed. Please contact us if you have any access problems.

  • API

    Database Search API

    The Digital Democracy API allows access to the data powering the Digital Democracy platform. The Digital Democracy API is in json format and is currently in its 0.5 version.

    API Terms of Use

    The use of the Digital Democracy API is subject to the following terms of use:

    The Digital Democracy API is offered free of charge to noncommercial registered users.

    Usage of the API is limited to the registered user to whom the access key and license was provided. Sharing or distribution of API keys is not permitted.

    Each webpage, dataset, or content creation that utilizes data obtained through the Digital Democracy API must give clear attribution to Digital Democracy by either (1) displaying the Digital Democracy logo that hyperlinks to the http://www.digitaldemocracy.org webpage, or (2) displays the text phrase "Data source: Digital Democracy" with the text phrase "Digital Democracy?" hyperlinked to the main http://www.digitaldemocracy.org webpage or the specific subpage from which data was obtained.

    The data provided through the Digital Democracy API has been compiled from a variety of sources and, as such, are subject to change without notice. In no event will the Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy (IATPP) be liable for any damages, whether direct, indirect, general, consequential, incidental, exemplary or special, arising from the use of information provided on this site or through links to any other sites.

    Some content included in the API may be provided as a courtesy of third parties, who may retain copyright control of the provided material. IATPP does not make any warranties or representations with respect to the content, quality, accuracy or completeness of any information or materials through links to other sites, including but not limited to: text, graphics, applications, databases, services, or any other information or materials. Nor shall IATPP assume any legal liability for the content, quality, accuracy or completeness of said information and materials.

    While we will make every effort to ensure that hearing transcripts and speaker identifications/affiliations are as accurate as possible, we cannot ensure 100 percent accuracy. Our system is subject to on-going improvements and transcripts may contain unintended errors. In addition to audio or speaking quality, accuracy may vary depending on industry specific terms, acronyms, and/or unique or incomplete names used.

    Register for an API Key

    You must register for an API key to get started.