About the LocalLens

As school board members, we’ve seen firsthand how democracy suffers when local decision-making is invisible. We’re alarmed at how difficult it is to follow the actions of our school boards, city councils, zoning boards, board of elections, and other local bodies that have so much influence over our lives. We’ve set out to democratize local democracy and provide journalists, researchers, advocates, and voters with an easy way to follow local government.

Every debrief you read on this website is written by a computer. We use emerging large language model technology and government records to automatically summarize local government meetings. 

This technology is not perfect. However, we believe the light our summaries shed on local government meetings— rarely covered comprehensively in any other way— is worth the risk of some errors. At our scale, we will infrequently but inevitably make mistakes. Misspellings of names are the most common. If you spot a mistake, please let us know and we will fix it. At the bottom of every debrief, we link to the local government record we used to generate the summary. We strongly encourage you to review that source before taking action on something you read here.

Computers are no match for humans. For one, computers can never replace in-depth local reporting. Our service is able to provide breadth but not depth. Our hope is to make local reporting easier and serve as a starting point for journalists to delve deeper into stories. We also hope community members and advocates will use us as a starting point and a tool of civic engagement to build understanding and power.

We welcome any ideas, feedback, or criticism you may have about our effort. We are continuously working to refine and improve our process. We need your feedback to continue making this service as good as it can be.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to make local government more transparent, accessible, and accountable.

The LocalLens is a fiscally sponsored project of Ready For School Initiative, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit organization.

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