What is the Generalitat’s seismometer?

C. Catalan

The Government of Catalunya publishes data, a lot and quite in detail, on their open data portal. What captured our imagination for this project was a file updated several times a week that informs about the 8191 entities the Public Admnistration of Catalonia is composed of. They are all there, with the names of all the people in charge, from the Secretariat of Presidency to the Regulatory Council of the Certificate of Origin of the sausages from Vic.

XML Organigrama
Catalonias president in raw XML .

Keeping all that information updated is practising transparency, and also a lot of work. Each edition has about 3.5 million characters, more or less the same amount as the Bible, and it is in XML format, the programmers’ favourite one because, although not fit for human consumption, it is easily machine-readable.

Of course, that’s why you have datajournalists. What we did was to keep all the daily versions of that list, to be able to visualize the changes in it. Like a seismometers that transforms distant earthly rumors into nice graphs, we wanted to record and publish the signals that the organizational charts of the Generalitat send out. We presented our first results on the occasion of the Data Journalism Conference 2014 and here it is.

Seismometer - by Matt Katzenberger https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthileo/3888057995/
Seismometers visualize underground forces that may change the course of rivers.  (Photo: Matt Katzenberger)

As usual in a first visualization, lots of new questions come to mind. What happened at the Agriculture Department in January 2014, when  32 new entities were created  and 57 entities were suddenly left with no one in charge? And that day in autumn 2013 when the Education Department all of a sudden deleted all the 40 Official Language Schools principals from its organization chart? And why was the responsibility of all Delegations of the Government of Catalonia extended all over the world in February? Will that extension bring an increase in their budget as well? Can a person be responsible for the Hunting Board and Biodiversity Board at the same time? Which are the most changeable areas at the Generalitat? Which are standing completely still? Who occupies the most posts? Where are there no people responsible?

The seismometer in its present shape is a start to help understand and find the answer to a lot of those questions (and create new visualizations to solve our doubts). We hope to build something on top of those foundations soon.