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Showing posts from January, 2013

Democratic activists: engage your representatives

For a long time, some kind of "postal code lookup" tool has been the holy grail of e-activism. I wrote such a tool that sent faxes to MPs back in the early 2000s [the aughties?].

But here in Canada we ran into a problem: postal code to riding databases are compiled by Stats Canada and licensed under restrictive use. So in spite of various attempts to come up with a sustainable solution, they've mostly been ad hoc and fail in the long run because of the cost and effort of keeping that database up to date.

So I'd been deflecting new requests for such a tool for years, hoping someone else would solve it, until a year ago or more two of my clients said they really wanted such a tool, and it occurred to me that geo-coding had now evolved to the point where we could use a different strategy: instead of keeping a database of postal codes to ridings, we could do geocoding of addresses to latitude - longitude and then use the now freely available shape files of ridings to do …