Contest Rules

Contact us with your questions and comments


The primary purpose of the competition is to educate the public about redistricting and encourage civic engagement in the legislative redistricting effort. A secondary purpose is to demonstrate that a non-partisan and open, public process based upon objective criteria can produce fair council districts in Philadelphia.

The Challenge

You are tasked with drawing legislative lines for the Philadelphia City Council based on 2010 Census demographic data. To be legally valid each plan must have the following characteristics or it will be disqualified:
  • Each plan must include ten (10) districts.
  • Contiguity – Unlike many other jurisdictions, Philadelphia uses voting precincts (known as “Ward Divisions), rather than the more commonly used Census Blocks. Districts in your plan must be composed of contiguous ward divisions. Philadelphia allows single-point contiguity (ward divisions are considered “contiguous”, even if they only meet at a single point), though this stretches the meaning of contiguity and will not be viewed favorably by the judges.
Additionally, plans will be scored based on:
  • Equipopulation – Districts should have approximately equal population in each district, based on the 2010 census. There are no legal standards for this in the City Charter, but we’ll score plans that have more equal population among districts higher than those that do not.
  • Compactness – We will measure the compactness of your districts using the Schwartzberg measure, a ratio of the perimeter of the district to the circumference of the circle whose area is equal to the area of the district (for more info on compactness, see Redistricting the Nation)
  • Communities of Interest – Philadelphians identify with their neighborhoods, which give us a sense of place and shared interests. Unfortunately, Philadelphia does not have official neighborhood boundaries, so this is a tough thing to define, but we are going to score a plan based on how many Wards are split.

    The administrators of the competition reserve the right to delete any City Council or Community plan that contains profane, racist or offensive plan names, district labels, or comments.


The contest is open to anyone in the world.


You may work with other people and are welcome to submit a plan that represents a group effort. If you do so, please submit the plan with the names of all of the people that contributed to the plan.

Number of Plans

Each person or team may only submit one plan. If you submit a second plan, previously submitted plans will be disqualified.

The Prizes

The top scoring plan will receive a $500 cash prize. Up to four runners-up will receive Amazon Kindles. Selected plans may be published in local news media outlets. If a single top plan cannot be selected, the best plans will split the price money.

Submitting a Plan

To submit a plan, you must send us the following information.
  • Full name of lead submitter
  • Full names of team members (if you submit as a group)
  • Team name (if you submit as a group)
  • Email Address
  • Street Address
  • Phone Number
  • Values - tell us what values, considerations and trade-offs you made in your plan
  • There are two ways you can submit your final plan:
    • Click on the 'Share' section tab. Click on the "Submit Final Plan to Contest" button. You will be asked to fill out the required fields. When you have completed the form, simply click on "Submit" and your plan file will be generated and emailed to the contest administrators.
    • Submit as a comma-delimited text file (also known as a CSV file) that includes one row for each ward division and the corresponding city council district. The web site enables you to export this “block equivalency file”, but you can create your own as well.
Please note that publishing a plan on the web site or its appearance in the leaderboards on the web site does not constitute a submission. The online software is intended as a tool for you to use to create a plan, but you are not required to use it. Even if you use the software, you will still need to email us the plan before it will be considered for a prize.

By submitting a plan for consideration, you are agreeing to have the plan published in local news media outlets and presented to City Council. Unless you request otherwise, the project partners will attempt to include attribution (your name or team name) for the plan whenever feasible.

Key Dates

  • Wednesday, August 3, 2011 (approximate), Competition opens
  • Monday, August 8, 2011, 7pm (6:30 registration), Public workshop at WHYY
    6:30pm, Registration | 7:00pm, Program
    WHYY studios, 150 N. 6th Street
  • Thursday, August 11, 2011, 6:30pm, Training webinar by Azavea
    If you'd like to watch the webinar, click here
  • Monday, August 15, 2011, 6:30pm, Training webinar by Azavea
  • Sunday, August 28, 2011, 11:59pm ET, Competition ends
  • August 31, 2011 (5pm) - City Council Public Hearing
    Esperanza Academy Charter High School
  • September 6, 2011(7pm) - City Council Public Hearing
    Einstein Medical Center (Gouley Auditorium)
  • Early September (TBD): Winners announced


We are going to attempt to judge this based on the quantitative metrics outlined above. If there is a draw, a judging panel may be convened among the project partners.