The Concept

Computers have been hailed as heroes and villains in redistricting. Those who herald computers as heroes believe that computers can be programmed to fairly implement a redistricting plan without political bias. Those who fear computers believe that they enable map drawers to execute fine-tuned gerrymanders to the detriment of the public. Our investigation of the use of computers in redistricting leads us to conclude that the hopes and fears are over-blown. Where we see promise for technology is open up the redistricting process, to provide more transparency and public participation. We believe that a more engaged public will enable a more robust debate over how districts best serve the representational needs of communities and the public.

Trying the Software

We are providing public access to a prototype of our software that enables the public to draw districts through their web browsers. Interested people can visit one of these sites.

The software itself is free, too, so you do not need an account on our demonstration version to try it out. We have configured the software so it can be easily run on Amazon Web Services following our installation instructions. It is important to understand while the software is free, the Amazon Web Services web hosting is not. Other server configurations are not free, and can have significant monthly fees, a maximum of approximately $1,600/month for the highest capacity server configuration. Smaller configurations will have lower costs, and you can even manage your costs by turning on and off the server as you need it.

Software Development Principles We have created our software in accordance to the principles for transparency articulated by our advisory board and with the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. We have not created a full-service Geographic Information System, rather we have created a tool for the specific purpose of drawing districts and community maps. We have made the interface to appear familiar to someone who uses on-line mapping programs for directions. Redistricting is a complex process, so we simplify this process as much as possible by providing tools and visual cues to help a novice draw a legal redistricting plan.

Software User Guide

We have written a user guide which describes all the software features and functions.

Software Administrator Guide

We have written an administrator guide which describes how to install the software on the Amazon Cloud Servers or your own Linux box.

Data Guide

We provide a description of the data that we have created to be used with the software.

Current Development Status

Our software version is currently 1.1, meaning that it has been successfully deployed for redistricting. A number of upgrades are currently under development and will be released soon.