Kenyans are gearing up for the presidential election in March, including the tech community projects like Uchaguzi and Map Kibera. One limiting factor is availability of data. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) finalized new constituency boundaries earlier this year, but have only released non-machine readable pdf maps. That’s led Map Kibera to resurvey on the ground the new boundaries and polling places, in Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru. But outside that excellent work, open data on the most primary geographies of democracy are not available for Kenya. Election boundaries should be the number one data available on OpenDataKE.
The IEBC released a nice site to look up Kenyan polling places. It doesn’t directly offer download, but quickly looking at network requests for the app revealed simple endpoints to request json versions of constituency and county boundaries, and the locations of polling places. I wrote a script which iterates through every ward in Kenya, caches the data, and produces outputs. There are shapefiles for download here. If you need something tweaked, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.
This map displays approximately 16000 polling places across Kenya. In total, there are 26447, but a significant number are not mapped. Also, there are no ward boundaries available. This is a big opportunity for Kenyans to contribute back to their government’s data. For instance, Lindi Mosque has no location in the government data set, but is present in OpenStreetMap. Would be possible to repurpose some OpenStreetMap microtasking tools to quickly map these places (HOT Tasking Server, MapMill or MapRoulette).
Why make this data open? So we can build things like
* Send an SMS to get a list of polling places in your ward
* Geocoder and custom base maps to make it easier to locate reports to Uchaguzi
* Print map services, so you can easily distribute polling place locations in your area
* Analysis, such as distribution of polling places according to population density
and plenty of creative things I haven’t imagined yet.
I hope this step of action, then begging forgiveness rather than asking permission (in I hope the best tradition of mySociety) will spark curiosity and consideration by the IEBC to more fully embrace openness, not only by releasing data, but inviting conversation and feedback from the citizens it serves, and becoming more transparent in how decisions are made and how the complicated and incredibly important business of running an election is being carried out.