Redistricting Services


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Redistricting Services
Whitepaper

Learn more about the District Builder project:


DistrictBuilder on GitHub

Azavea's DistrictBuilder Website

Azavea Journal Article

Public Mapping Project Website


DistrictBuilder

Web-based, Open Source Software for Collaborative Redistricting

Azavea is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) web-based software design and development firm. Why are we interested in building open source, collaborative redistricting software? We believe a confluence of the internet, geographic data and tools for online collaboration have the potential to transform the redistricting process by enabling citizens to participate directly in the effort.

Why Open Source, Web-based Software?

  • Simple access to complex data: Public users of the software do not have to manage GIS file formats or know how to do complex spatial and statistical analysis. The software stores and analyzes the data behind the scenes, allowing the user to focus on creating balanced districts.
  • Familiar map editing and viewing tools: The tools were designed to enable someone familiar with widely-available web-based mapping software, such as Google Maps or Bing, to begin drawing their districts immediately.
  • Easy access through a web browser: District Builder can be accessed via the web on any computer with supported, industry standard browsers including Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome.
  • Easily configurable settings: Each instance of the software can be configured to meet each use case, such as developing a unique set of redistricting criteria.
  • Open, Transparent Programming Code: The code behind the software is open and available for inspection and modification by anyone. The software is built using several open source technologies including django, GeoServer, Celery, jQuery, PostgreSQL, and PostGIS.
  • Low installation and hosting costs: The software is implemented using open source software components, meaning there is no license fee to implement the software. District Builder can be hosted in the cloud on an Amazon EC2 instance or on a standard server infrastructure.

District Builder Services

Azavea offers a range of implementation services for the District Builder software. These services include:

  • Database Development: Azavea can process and load demographic and election results data into the District Builder database as well as load district boundaries and optional reference layers.
  • Software Configuration and Installation: The District Builder has a broad range of potential configuration options. The following are just a few of the options available for configuration:
  • Base maps
  • Optional reference layers
  • Scoring parameters
  • Legal boundary rules
  • Reporting options
  • Installation of PostgreSQL, PostGIS, GeoServer and the DistrictBuilder software
  • Graphic Design: The District Builder application can be adapted to the colors, fonts and other branding elements of a particular organization.
  • Competition Support: Configuration for operating a contest or competition is somewhat more complex than a conventional District Builder setup and includes the following services:
  • Scoring configuration
  • Score weighting
  • Leaderboard setup
  • Software Customization: Because Azavea staff developed District Builder, they are uniquely qualified to make changes to the software in order to adapt it to the particular needs of an organization.
  • Training: Azavea can provide both web-based training sessions and on-premise training for your staff or public trainings for groups of users.
  • Hosting: District Builder is designed to work with several hosting options.
  • Amazon Web Services: Amazon Web Services offers a virtual server environment under its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as well as storage through Elastic Block Storage (EBS). Amazon EC2 servers can be purchased as small, large and extra-large and can be paid on either an as-needed basis or purchased in advance for one year or more.
  • Azavea Hosting: Azavea provides hosting services on its own servers as an alternative to Amazon EC2. This option provides a flat monthly or annual fee for hosting the application.
  • On Premise Installation: District Builder can be installed on-premise using the server and network infrastructure of a given organization. This option is generally more costly to set up and configure but can enable integration with an organizations internal databases and can reduce the cost of ongoing hosting.
  • + View Feature
    1. Sign up for a user account
    + View Feature
    2. Create a District Plan
    + View Feature
    3. Design Map Layer View
    + View Feature
    4. Edit
    + View Feature
    5. Customize Statistics Feedback
    + View Feature
    6. Evaluate and Report
    + View Feature
    7. Share Plans
    + View Feature
    8. Competition

    Sign up for a user account: District Builder can be used both by redistricting commissions as well as members of the public to draw district plans that meet the legal requirements set forth by a city, county or state. Users can create an account in order to:

  • Create, edit and save plans
  • Share plans with others
  • Generate district reports.
  • Create a District Plan: Users can start drawing their own plans by choosing from:

  • Template plans an administrator has pre-loaded
  • A ‘blank’ map with no district assignments
  • Their own, previously saved plans
  • Plans shared by other users
  • Additionally, users can import district plans generated by external software packages by simply creating and uploading a simple index file in csv format. A user can export a plan from District Builder to be used in an external GIS software platform, in the same csv format.

    Design Map Layer View:

  • Thematic Map Layers - Users select from multiple thematic map layers that describe the underlying demographic and geographic statistical information for each district and geounit (ie blocks, tracts, counties, and/or wards).
  • Reference Layers - While editing district maps users can choose to view other boundaries as reference layers on top of their map. The boundary layers include:
  • Other legislative levels
  • Geographic boundary
  • Additional administrative boundaries
  • Edit: Easy-to-use editing tools enable users to draw new district boundaries or edit existing boundaries. Users can:

  • Select geographies
  • Assign selected geographies to districts
  • Copy and paste districts from other plans
  • Detect and fix unassigned geographies
  • and much more…
  • Customize Statistics Feedback: As a user edits their district plan, a statistics panel displays various sets of continuously updated demographic, geographic and election data statistics for each district. Administrators of the software can set up default sets of statistics available to all users of the software, while users can create their own, customized statistics sets.

    Evaluate and Report: By selecting from a wide variety of plan statistics, users can generate customized reports for each of their plans. Reports enable users to evaluate how closely their current plan matches redistricting requirements.

    Share Plans: Users can choose to keep their saved plans private or can share them with other users. After a plan has been shared, it can be accessed by other users and used as a starting point for their own district editing process.

    Competition: TBD