In 2020 we put out our most ambitious roadmap in a long time. It included launching bill tracking, bulk data, and API improvements. Thanks to the funding we received, we launched all of the major features we had planned, and then some. We also wound up putting out some surprises we hadn’t planned on, like our COVID-19 legislation tracking, new municipal data, and our new shiny API v3, which is already seeing great adoption! We’re really proud of what we were able to accomplish with the support of our community and excited to share our preliminary 2021 plans.
2021: Data, Data, Data
As is somewhat typical for odd-numbered years, the focus for 2021 will largely be on data quality improvements. As many of you know, we typically spend the first part of an odd-numbered year working on session data as most states enter new sessions with new legislative rosters. We expect Q1 of 2021 to largely be focused on these session updates, including a full refresh of our people data to cover gaps in contact information and biographical data.
Given the data-focused nature of our 2021 plans, most of our planned tasks are longer-term improvements that will have wide-ranging impact across Open States. 2021 priorities will include:
- Drastically improved timeliness of data: we’ll be scraping states multiple times a day, aiming to reduce the time between legislative updates and the data appearing in the Open States API.
- People data refresh: we’ll be working on new processes to keep this data fresh, including changes to contact information and other infrequently updated fields.
- More data quality dashboard work: ways for developers and power users to determine what data might be missing from upstream so we can continue to improve our scrapers.
There’ll of course also be quite a few additional improvements to our APIs, and we’ll have more to say on OpenStates.org features later in the year.
We also have some very exciting news coming in the next month or so: after four years of being run as an independent project, typically with volunteer time and very limited resources, Open States has found a new home. I’m very eager to share the details, and we will as soon as a few key pieces are finalized. For now, rest assured that not much will change for most users, except you can expect our data quality and timeliness to become a much bigger priority.
Happy New Year, we’ll see you in the 2021 sessions!