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Look at Cook: A Budget Visualization for Cook County, IL

Published on Aug 25, 2011 by Derek Eder | Category: opengov

LookAtCook.com is a budget transparency visualization for Cook County, IL displaying all county departments broken down by fund and control officer from 1993 to 2011. It was done as a collaboration between Derek Eder & Nick Rougeux of Webitects,  Open City,  and the office of Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey.

It all started with a question posed by Seth Lavin (who was working for Commissioner Fritchey's office at the time): "Have you ever seen anyone do good work displaying a government budget in an easily-understood way?"

We'd seen the Federal Budget visualization done by the New York Times and I was a fan of the Death and Taxes poster, but neither of them let you really dive in to the data. We decided that we would make our own, and we would do it with a data set we had just gotten our hands on: the Cook County budget from 1993-2011.

After some lengthy brainstorming and the discovery of several amazing jQuery libraries, a designer friend and I put this together in about 6 weeks. The data is all stored in Google's Fusion Tables and anyone can download it.

Each year in the visualization is broken down in to departments (such as the Police Department, Social Services, Highways, Building and Zoning, etc) which are then organized by Fund (Public SafetyHealthCorporate, etc) and also by Control Officer / Elected Official.

There's a lot of information in there and a lot of stories to be told with the data (quick tip for you power users: each page has its own unique URL, so you can share what you find). So dive in and take a look!

Update - we've gotten some press since I wrote this blog post:

The code is also open source, and available on github.

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