As part of his thesis project at OCAD, Gar Liu created an application that breaks down Toronto’s budget visually.
In a message to Toronto’s Open Data community, Liu said that the visualization data comes from a Google spreadsheet, which lists the budget data for 2009 onwards. To make the project more complete, he’s currently looking to find similar data sets for 2008 and earlier.
For now, however, the Toronto budget visualization does a great job to show where the city’s money goes. Another notable visual representation of government spending is Jess Bachman’s massive visual guide to the Massachsettes state budget, which presents hundreds of government departments, agencies, and programs in a visual format, proportionate in size to their funding level. If done well, these representations can help citizens better understand the dull figures that comprise budgets.
UPDATE: Liu is sharing the database and API, which can be used to create your own visualizations.