Visual Government

Bringing financial transparency to local governments and citizens, one city at a time.


A publicly available financial story of how cities allocate and spend their budgets.

Increasing transparency and accessibility to financial information has long been a goal for the Town. We hope this new feature will encourage users to learn more about Town finances and be more engaged in the annual budget discourse.

Arlington Town Manager – Adam Chapdelaine


Design F Award

Innovation Award by Mass Municipal Association

Voice of Transparency Governmen

The Sunlight Foundation

Practice Areas

Civic Tech, Open Source

Project Type

Research, Usability, Product Design, Development


$25k – $50k

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Government employees and elected officials understand that budgets are the road maps they must follow. Insiders live and breathe the budget. They wade through 300-page PDFs and toss around terms like “enterprise fund” and “capital outlay” with aplomb. But most community residents have little insight into municipal finances.

This is why Invo, along side Annie LaCourt and Alan Jones, created the open source Visual Budget (licensed under Apache) – a tool for deepening the conversation between government and citizens about how taxpayer dollars are being spent, and why. It lets citizens understand budget priorities at a glance, see how their own tax dollars are spent, and understand the context for financial decisions, without devoting a week to reading spreadsheets.

Care Cards card Move More.

Seeing all of the town financials in one picture

Care Cards featured in Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare.

Town Expenses

The Visual Budget gives citizens the information they need to have informed conversations with municipal officials about values and priorities, enriching the experience for all.

Similar to a standard deck of cards, Care Cards fit into your pocket - and your life.

City officials worked closely with the Invo team to model, design, and launch the service.

Grouping Care Cards into specialized packs like managing diabetes or weight loss.

User feedback and testing was conducted with town residents, activists, and public officials. The testing protocol used ‘thinking out loud’ techniques to hear what people were thinking while using the service.

An early prototype sewed the data and dataviz together.

Arlington Town Management Analyst Michael Bouton said he was happy to work with Invo’s creative team on the project. “It was a blank canvas,” Bouton said. “We came in with an idea and the conceptualization of it was them.” The Invo designers and engineers donated their time, and the company has made the code for the project available online for other town governments to use. An Arlington resident, GoInvo’s Creative Director Juhan Sonin was excited about the collaboration, saying “It’s a part of our civic responsibility as designers to get involved in the design of policy.”

The code is freely available under the Apache license at Github.

The first town to adopt the service was Arlington, MA. See it live.

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