¿Donde van mis impuestos?

The Spanish government has 319 billion of budget for 2013. But how is this money spent? Although these data are public, it is not easy for any citizen to understand how public money is spent just watching the dataset  provided on the web page of the Ministry of Economy.

Solve this problem and make these data more clearly as possible, these were the goals of David Cabo, creator of the application ¿Donde van mis impuestos?, a visualization of the annual expenditure of the Spanish Central Government and Social Security, and of the various regional administrations.

David is the founder of Fundación Ciudadana Civio, a non-profit organization that strives to mind the information transparency and openness of data through the use of technology, and two years ago he decided to work on this project also guided by a personal interest.  “This is a subject that always interested me,” David says, “I was already working on this theme because I wanted to know where the money goes, how the statal money was spending, and how much it was.”

To realized it, he took the official data from the Ministerio de Hacienda, spending almost two months to clean and understand them. “The problem was that all these data are not published in an easy reusable format,” he says. In fact the Ministry published data in two formats, PDF image and HTML, both of them very difficult to reused. David used Ruby, a specific programming language, to extract these data from they original format and put them in an excel spreadsheet.

Once gethered all the data, the next step was choose the most appropriate visualization to show them to the public. David was already in touch with The Open Knowledge Foundation, an English NGO that works with subject as the data openess and that have created a similar project called Where does my money go. David also contacted VISup, an italian company that deal with information and data visualization user experience design. In 2011 VISup co-founders, Gabriele Venier and Daniele Califfa, created a similar app useful to understand italian public spending.

David decided to use both of them for his project: the first one was used to represent the national budget, while the second one was used for the regional budget. 

¿Donde van mis impuestos?: the new generation

Once realized the first version of the project, David was contacted by two autonomous community, Aragon and the Basque Country, to create a similar but more detailed application. These two new websites are an evolution, a second generation of ¿Donde van mis impuestos?.

Captura de pantalla 2013-03-09 a la(s) 22.49.32

The national project misses some things, i.e. it shows the expenses, but not the incomes, and it shows the budget but not the money actually executed. David is aware of these deficiencies, and he is working to improve it using the same method that he used for the particular projects and adding the same level of details.

¿Donde van mis impuestos? is a simple visualization, much more didactic and useful to see how it works,” David says. “My goal is develop it to create an effective tool that can be used to make a real search.”