We asked Winnipeggers to grade their civic government when it comes to ‘Open Government’ and ‘Open Data’, and whether government information and data are readily available to the public, and those who answered this question have given the City of Winnipeg a failing grade.
The results of this month’s CNC poll question (“I Wonder Winnipeg”) on how open and transparent City Hall is, has over 63% of respondents giving Winnipeg’s civic government a ‘D’ (‘poor’) rating, and 21% choosing a ‘C’ grade (‘fair’). Only 13% gave Winnipeg a ‘B’ (‘good’) and just 4% gave it an ‘A’ (‘excellent’).
The concern of citizens over this issue has galvanized many Winnipeggers who will be voting in next month’s civic election.
A forum held last month at the Millennium Library, featuring Richard Pietro who is traveling across Canada to discuss Open Government and Open Data, attracted more than 75 people.
The event, which was sponsored by Open Democracy Manitoba, and hosted by Community News Commons and Winnipeg Public Library, generated a lively and provocative discussion about ways to get our elected representatives to open up their doors, by making government more transparent and allowing easy and unfettered access to public data.
On his tour, Pietro is visiting 17 Canadian cities where he is talking about how and why Open Data and Open Government are important to the average citizen.
“Open Data refers to the default release of all the information the government collects about us,” Pietro says. “All the studies, all the reports, all the numbers, all available online. Open Government is the idea that governments make this information available by default, without having to go through Freedom of Information requests or court battles,” he adds. “Open Government means a government that works with the people, not above the people.”
Pietro reports that he has received more interest from Winnipeg audiences than those in other cities. The support for more dialogue on this topic has prompted Open Democracy Manitoba to invite Pietro back to Winnipeg for a return visit.
On Saturday, September 6, a ‘Community Hang-Out’ will be held at Cousin’s Deli, 55 Sherbrook Street, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Pietro will be there to help guide a discussion on his 2014 Open Government Tour, on the kind of municipal data one can obtain from data.winnipeg,ca, and a citizen’s guide to interpreting data.