Funding

Feb. 25, 2016 10:52 am

A Philly civic tech project landed $35K from the Knight Prototype Fund

Visible Contracts builds interactive visualizations that make Philadelphia's procurement data more transparent and easily digestible.

Lookin' good, Philly.

(Photo by Julie Zeglen)

Score one for the hometown team.

Over 500 early-stage media and information projects applied for funding from the Knight Protoype Fund. From that pool of applicants, 20 were chosen to receive a $35,000 grant. Eleven are working in the civic tech space.

One of those civic tech grantees is Visible Contracts, a Philly procurement data project spearheaded by local digital agency ThirdSpace.

Visible Contracts will work to make Philly’s government contract data more transparent and digestible by building online interactive visualizations. The project has six months to develop its concept into a workable demo.

“First and foremost, many local and state governments are dealing with antiquated legacy technology systems, lumbering beasts that make inputting and accessing information extremely difficult,” writes ThirdSpace Principle Strategist and project lead Amanda Levinson on Visible Contracts’ blog. “Procurement data may be spread across multiple websites, might be in different systems, or might still be in paper form.”

Levinson also touches on a major procurement issue facing women and minority-owned businesses in Philadelphia — a problem area recommended for reform by Mayor Jim Kenney‘s transition team earlier this month.

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“Although the city is nearly 50% African American, its vendors do not reflect the city’s demographics,” she writes. “The City’s goal is to have 50% of its vendors owned by women or minorities, a goal which, so far, it has fallen short of. Lack of access to capital, financing, and mentorship opportunities are all cited as critical reasons for the low number of minorities receiving city contracts.”

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