Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Keeping track of government & civic events in Calgary

 After a too-long absence due to a mix of holidays, sickness, life stresses and burn-out, I’ve started loading up the Calgary Democracy calendar with relevant events again, especially meetings of our municipal government.

Stay up-to-date automatically

Near the top of the calendar page, there are a couple links you can use to add the calendar to your calendar application (on your computer, smartphone, or other networked device). If you subscribe to the calendar, you’ll automatically get updates without having to go back and check the website.

For example, I use this on my smartphone, which means I just need to go to my phone’s calendar to see when the next City Council meeting is.

The City’s challenging information

The City currently posts information about upcoming “Boards, Commissions and Committees” through a fairly minimalist calendar page. They don’t provide any way to take a feed of that data so it can be auto-loaded into your calendar, or shared on other websites.

Consequently, I’m currently manually copying and pasting (and cleaning up and reformatting) the listings from that website to create calendar entries in the Calgary Democracy calendar.

The agendas and minutes for those meetings are kept on a completely separate website (actually, 2 separate websites — one for archives of pre-October 31, 2010 meetings, and one for meetings since then). Their calendar site doesn’t yet link to the agenda & minutes site, and the latter only links to the former indirectly.

Agendas are often posted only a few days before a meeting, so it’s challenging for me to update the Calgary Democracy calendar with them.

Unfortunately, the full package of information being made available for the Councillors at the meetings is not yet being made available to the public (that I can find). So, we’re still missing a lot of crucial information about what is being discussed on our behalf.

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