February 2023 Update

What’s possible working with our partners

Community Tech Alliance
5 min readFeb 27, 2023

We often call ourselves a public utility for the progressive space — and we take that mission seriously.

Because what we build is only successful if it provides utility to our partners. That’s why we prioritize building in collaboration and in the open. We’re invested in finding the right solutions to meet a team’s needs (see our case study on partnering with Organize! Arizona below) and two-way communication (see Notes from BenDesk below) because CTA only works if it works for our partners. We also intentionally choose our technology partners and invest heavily in collaborative partnerships with our tooling vendors (check out our work with Airplane).

Organize! Arizona + CTA: Building a Data Infrastructure that Works

Last year, Organize! Arizona (a new project out of Rural Arizona Action) partnered with CTA to build a data infrastructure that would empower their team to make real-time, data-informed decisions about their field program (and do so without sky-high costs!).

Starting from scratch, the teams worked to assess OAZ’s data needs and establish a partnership with America Votes to get access to their VAN data. This enabled CTA and VAN to work together to set up a pipeline straight from VAN to CTA BigQuery, delivering data in near real-time.

CTA’s tools made it easy for OAZ to merge VAN data with their other data sources like Google into a central hub — the Progressive Action Database (PAD). With the data systems merged in PAD, the OAZ team was then able to create robust, comprehensive reporting — much faster, with more timely data, and at low cost.

Read more about how the OAZ team leveraged an hourly VAN sync to produce real-time dashboards for their team.

Programmatic Summary Dashboard in Looker Studio
created by Ashley Brennan, Data and Field Director, Organize Arizona!

Hop into the Pond

Our mission is to make world-class data infrastructure and tooling available, affordable, and easy-to-use for anyone in the progressive space.

While we love BigQuery and could spend all day in the Google Cloud Platform UI and CLI tools, we know not everyone enjoys navigating endless menus to find BigQuery or Looker Studio. Enter: Pond and The Hopper.

The Hopper is CTA’s chrome extension, built to help our users easily find their CTA PAD project from their Chrome browser. This extension has evolved over time; it now comes pre-installed when you log into Chrome with your PAD account and you can find it on the Chrome Web Store. And in March 2023, watch for the debut of a new UI!

We’ve also been hard at work developing Pond, our new web app. Pond will give both Chrome and non-Chrome users a place to find their BigQuery projects quickly. At launch, you can also authorize CTA to sync your data from Facebook Marketing, Pages, and LinkedIn into BigQuery.

We focus on these sorts of tools because they provide a solution to the big problems facing our users. And that’s our core mission.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we engineer internal authentication, access, logging, and everything else we do to keep our users secure and productive, check out this case study written about CTA by one of our favorite tools, Airplane.

Free BigQuery and Looker Studio Training

We’re co-hosting a free BigQuery and Looker Studio virtual training series with Generation Data from April 4 — May 4.

Sessions are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30–8:00 p.m. ET, led by experienced instructions from CTA and Generation Data. Trainees will be able to improve their SQL and data visualization skills using voter file data, all while receiving real-time instructor feedback.

There are 25 spots open — apply now for your best chance to attend!

Notes from BenDesk*

Ben is our resident ZenDesk captain and manager of all help@ inquiries. We’re bringing you interesting inquiries from his inbox each month.

Question of the Month: What happens when I click “Copy” when viewing a table in BigQuery, and why does that button disappear sometimes?

BenDesk Answer: BigQuery makes it easy to create a full copy of a table using the Copy button in the BigQuery UI. Copying a table is also one way to rename a table (an alternative to Alter Table Rename To).

However, the ‘Copy’ button is unavailable for all tables. Why? Google’s help documentation on BigQuery shares a few reasons, but the two most-likely for PAD users include: 1) trying to copy a view or; 2) trying to copy an external table. For example, if your data source is Google Sheets, BigQuery considers this an external table. This causes the ‘Copy’ button to disappear from the UI.

Never fear — even without the ‘Copy’ button, you only need a few lines of SQL to create a copy of the tables. Here’s some sample code you can use to essentially duplicate your tables:


Check out these recently published articles on NotePAD, our knowledge base for users, to learn more:

Do you have a question for BenDesk and the team? Partners can submit their asks to help@techallies.org.

CTA’S Gender-Affirming Care Leave

We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive environment for all of our employees.

In 2022, we looked at our benefits to see where we could continue to improve upon living up to that value. One straightforward addition that we were able to make was adding Gender Affirming Care Leave for employees that are in the process of transitioning. Now folks are able to access up to 8 weeks of paid leave to undergo gender-affirming care of all types — from medical to physical therapy to mental health services.

We hope it’s just one way to continue to provide inclusive, progressive, and intentional benefits to our team.

What We’re Reading and Listening To:

  • Work Appropriate: Anne Helen Peterson’s podcast gives advice on all of the crazy and sometimes downright annoying things that we deal with everyday in the workplace.
  • Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid: A sports book that isn’t really about sports at all (groundbreaking, we know).
  • The City We Became by N.K Jemison: Regarded as the greatest science fiction author of our decade, NKJ brings intersectionality to a weird world, and blows us away with a fresh take on The City That Never Sleeps.



Community Tech Alliance

Empowering the progressive community through smart data management.