About Jurisdictional

What is Jurisdictional?

Jurisdictional is a crowd-sourced directory of public entities in the United States.

The goal of Jurisdictional is to provide a unified interface for government. A citizen's experience of government is inherently multi-jurisdictional and personalized; based on their location and a number of various attributes and preferences. Jurisdictional is for curating public data and being a software tool to provide a more coherent, user-centered, civic experience. If you're interested in this project, please consider participating. There are many ways to contribute.

the Vision

a unified interface to all layers of U.S. government

Jurisdictional was designed to demonstrate the possibilities and benefits of a unified interface between citizens and government. The civic ecosystem that we live in is shaped, in part, by many interactions between citizens, formal and informal groups, organizations, government agencies, and governing bodies — national and local.

What's the goal?

  • To unify the interface to government and public services.
  • To provide a comprehensive, open dataset of essential public infrastructure.
  • To distribute the gathering, verification, and maintenance of public data as a public resource.

Why does this project exist?

It is 2020 2021 2022 2023 and we don't have a complete inventory of what constitutes "government" in the United States.

More than 90,000 Jurisdictions exist in the United States. Most jurisditions have multiple Agencies, Governing Bodies, and Positions, and there are more than 500,000 publicly elected officials.

The Problem

Many of the same public services are provided across jurisdictions.

Discovery of basic public information and services can be easier.

Can these basic questions readily be answered regarding public infrastructure?
  • How is tax money being spent?
  • Are politicians keeping their promises?
  • Who is my government?
  • What public services are available in a given location?
  • What are my Jurisdictions?
  • How can I get involved?

The Solution

Basic democratic questions can be more readily answered with a comprehensive civic data layer that can be used to powers civic-tech and open-gov applications.

Jurisdictional is that comprehensive data layer.

How will SmartCities learn and communicate? How can citizens compare performance between jurisdictions? Where are opportunities for new markets and better public services? Understanding jurisdictional boundaries and data is necessary to inform next generation democracy; to realize the vision of government as a platform.

the Project

an open database of public entities

Jurisdictional was created to better understand how we can evolve our society harmoniously while we face wickedly complex obstacles and challenges. To understand the civic landscape, a means to navigate aids in increasing agency for individuals and groups.

The hypothesis is that the user experience of government can be improved through better structured data and experiences; crafted around the varying needs of each citizen; each person. What will follow is a better articulation of the challenges we face and the needs we have, as well as a means to address those challenges and fulfill those needs. Coordinated effort to achieve shared goals starts with a shared framework for all - a lattice for which the civic fabric can flourish.

The convergence of technologies requires us to evolve our social technologies as well. A basic component of the civic fabric is understanding the structure and operations of public institutions and being able to engage with it effectively and transparently.

- Ryan Wold RW stamp at Civic Studio

How is the data organized?

Each Jurisdiction has many Agencies.
Each Agency has one or more Governing Bodies.
Each Governing Body is comprised of some number of Positions.
Each Position is occupied by a Person for a period of time.
An Agency may provide one or more public Services.
And, each User may have many Jurisdictions, depending on location.

data object model

Sample data

Jurisdiction: State of California
Agency: State of California
Body: California Assembly
Positions: All California Assembly Positions
Person: People who are serving in a Position
Tenure: an instance of a Person serving in a Position for a given period of time
Service: a public Service provided by an Agency. A service may correspond to one or more Jurisdictions.


a more open, transparent society

Transparency is a core value. Action is necessary. It has been said that "All politics is local." As Citizens, we delegate governance in good, pragmatic faith. Nearly all the inadequacies observed in our public systems stem from behaviors and actions that are not conducted in the good faith and spirit; in accordance with the creed of a public servant.

Governing bodies, in exchange for our trust and support, owe citizens transparency in intent, operations, and outcomes. An overwhelming major of public agencies, bodies, and officials want to do the right thing, but lack the tools, framework, and culture of open accountability to drive our society toward a more harmonious future. To support this vision, we encode transparency in the tool.

Increased citizen trust can lead to more citizen participation. More participation can lead to more effective legislation, enhanced oversight, and a healthier relationship between people and governance systems.


What are we solving for?

We've observed that Citizen apathy stems from a lack of trust in government. In the present state, many of our public institutions appear to be unsustainable; failing infrastructure, budgetary woes, misappropriations. Our organizational and societal system approach needs revision.

Government is often perceived as too complex. Local government data is fragmented across thousands of websites and therefore, more difficult than necessary to discover, make sense of, and act upon. This often leads to a poor User Experience of Government. Given 90,000+ Jurisdictions in the U.S., dependening on where you live (or do business at), the Jurisdictional context changes. We respect and embrace the federalized nature of US Government; but also identify meaningless complexity in the way similar public services are provided in different places. Standardizing and unifying key interfaces with public agencies, bodies, and positions will enable simplified interactions that become relatively easier, faster, and more satisfying.

The civic tech ecosystem needs good shepherds. Jurisdictional seeks to build a sustainable operating model, that enhances the experience between citizens and government. This project exists to do what government does not do well, like work across jurisdictional boundaries.

The U.S. Republic is built atop democratic principles that promise citizens a voice, and moreso, liberty, freedom, and agency. Beyond the ballot box, no dominant framework exists for open group actions, across time. We want to instill an event-driven, workflow based mentality to citizens and the public agencies together, so that we may realize higher quality, more effective, and more accountable public services.

the Features

What can Jurisdictional do for me?

To create almost any civic app, access to local government data is necessary. The easier this is, the more time people (developers and product teams) can focus on providing unique functionality and value. Jurisdictional helps people discover available public services, including digital services and civic web applications.

Jurisdictional provides an API that offers:

  • Geocoding (Address to Lat/Lng)
  • Juricoding (Address to Jurisdictional Layers)
  • Jurisdictions, Agencies, Bodies, Positions, and Services

Provide embeddable widgets for your website.

Display and share opportunities to participate.

Navigating and measuring progress

Are we building the right thing?
Are we building it right?

Like any vision, it takes a certain amount of faith to embark on a path toward something only envisioned, something that does not yet exist. Balancing the vision (of inventorying every public jurisdiction, agency, body, position, and service), with small tangible actions (designing, coding, finding data, talking to humans!) - is necessary to bring forth the idea into existence.

Being able to synthesize constructive feedback from our users is how we assess the value others find in this project. Let us know what you were hoping to find or what you liked about the site. We want Jurisdictional to be the best source of public information and the most delightful public service in existence.

Questions or feedback?