Circumstance

Democracy Data and Communications has led the Washington, DC marketplace with high- powered technology solutions used by public affairs professionals for their grassroots, communications and government affairs activities. The backbone of their service is an extensive database of Federal and State legislators, their address information, committee assignments, and the staff that support them.

Updating this database had become increasingly difficult and expensive. Employing researchers to manually visit and review more than 8,500 legislative websites, looking for changes in legislator contact information, created unique problems:

  1. Identifying the changes to legislator websites, from one visit to the next, was difficult. Oftentimes the changes were overlooked by the reviewer.
  2. Given the number of legislator sites, a researcher could only review the site 3 or 4 times a year, making it harder to keep the database up to date.

DDC turned to BND Software because of previous experience building applications for their clients. They asked us for a plan to make this process more efficient.

BND Solution

Based upon earlier work in this area we proposed creating a website retrieval "engine" that could be launched daily, weekly, or monthly. The application would:

  • Permit a researcher to enter all URL addresses of all the sites they monitor: Federal and state legislators, federal and state agencies, committee assignments, and other relevant addresses.
  • Permit a researcher to schedule the search of these web pages. The search could be daily, weekly, monthly, or on-demand as needed.
  • When retrieved, the application would compare the HTML with the HTML of a previous version of that page, and alert the researcher to any changes.
  • Create a composite of the HTML showing a highlight area where content had changed, added or deleted.
  • Provide a highly organized listing of these pages that, once reviewed, could be saved and used in the comparison of the next group of pages that would be retrieved.

 

Results

We created a fully operational application for DDC within 45 days, on time and on budget. Not only is the company able to keep their database more current and accurate, but also they do so at a much lower cost. BND hosts the application for DDC.

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