What is Jurisdictional?

Jurisdictional is an open, crowd-sourced directory of public entities in the United States.


What can Jurisdictional do for me?

Jurisdictional makes it easy to find and share information about local governments and public services.

Civic Developers and community-minded Product teams can save time and focus on providing unique user-centered value and functionality. Make your civic app discoverable in the jurisdictions you serve.

Jurisdictional provides:

  • Embeddable widgets for your website that show public information for the entities
  • An API for
    • Geocoding (address to lat, lng)
    • Juricoding (address to Jurisdictional layers)
    • Public entities, including:
      • Jurisdictions
      • Agencies
      • Bodies
      • Positions
      • People
      • Services

Problem Statement / Why does this project exist?

to create an open dataset of public entities

The year is 2019 and we don't yet have an open, complete data inventory of public entities in the United States.

A canonical dataset of public entities supports greater civic understanding, and enables derivative value to be created and shared for the benefit of all.

Did you know? More than 90,000 Jurisdictions exist; most with many Agencies, Governing Bodies, and Positions. And, more than 500,000 appointed or elected public representatives in the United States!

the Vision

a unified interface to U.S. government

Jurisdictional is an exploration of a single interface to government. The many interactions between citizens, formal and informal groups, organizations, and government agencies and bodies shape the civic fabric in which we live. Our question is: How?

the Project

an open database of public entities

Jurisdictional was created as a means of better understanding how we can evolve our society harmoniously while we face wickedly complex obstacles and challenges. To understand the civic landscape, we must have a map - or more generally, a means to navigate. Informed agency.

The hypothesis is that the user experience of government can be improved through better structured data and experiences; crafted around the varying needs of each citizen; each person. What will follow is a better articulation of the challenges we face and the needs we have, as well as a means to address those challenges and fulfill those needs. Coordinated effort to achieve shared goals starts with a shared framework for all - a lattice for which the civic fabric can flourish.

The convergence of technologies requires us to evolve our social technologies as well. A basic component of the civic fabric is understanding the structure and operations of public institutions and being able to engage with it effectively and transparently.

- Ryan Wold RW stamp at Civic Studio


a more open, transparent society

Transparency is a core value. As Citizens, we delegate governance in good, pragmatic faith. Nearly all the inadequacies observed in our public systems stem from behaviors and actions that are not conducted in the good faith and spirit; in accordance with the creed of a public servant.

Governing bodies, in exchange for our trust and support, owe citizens transparency in intent, operations, and outcomes. An overwhelming major of public agencies, bodies, and officials want to do the right thing, but lack the tools, framework, and culture of open accountability to drive our society toward a more harmonious future. Accordingly, we encode Transparency in the tool.

Increased citizen trust can lead to more citizen participation. More participation can lead to more holistic, effectively legislative and and economic outcomes.


What are we solving for?

We've observed that Citizen apathy stems from a lack of trust in government. As existing, our institutions appear to be unsustainable; failing infrastructure, budgetary woes, misappropriations. Our organizational and societal system approach needs revision.

Government is too complex. Local government data is fragmented across thousands of websites and therefore, more difficult to discover, make sense of, and act upon - than necessary. This often leads to a poor User Experience of Government. Given 90,000+ Jurisdictions in the US, dependening on where you live (or do business at), the Jurisdictional context changes. We respect and embrace the federalized nature of US Government; but also identify meaningless complexity in the way similar public services are provided in different places. Standardizing and unifying key interfaces with public agencies, bodies, and positions will enable simplified interactions that are more satisfying.

The civic tech ecosystem needs good shepherds. Jurisdictional seeks to build a sustainable operating model, that enhances the experience between citizens and government. We exist to do what government does not do well, like work across jurisdictional boundaries.

The US Republic is built atop democratic principles that promise citizens a voice, and moreso, liberty, freedom, and agency. Beyond the ballot box, no dominant framework exists for open group actions, across time. We want to instill an event-driven, workflow based mentality to citizens and the public agencies together, so that we may realize higher quality, more effective, and more accountable public services.

Evolving and measuring progress

Are we building the right thing?
Are we building it right?

Like any vision, it takes a certain amount of faith to embark on a path toward something only envisioned, something that does not yet exist. Balancing the vision (of inventorying every public jurisdiction, agency, body, position, and service), with small tangible actions (designing, coding, finding data, talking to humans!) - is necessary to bring forth the idea into existence.

Being able to synthesize constructive feedback from our users is how we assess the value others find in this project. Let us know what you were hoping to find or what you liked about the site. We want Jurisdictional to be the best source of public information and the most delightful public service in existence.

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