This week, a man on a mission will ride his motorcycle into our fair city, as part of an ongoing effort to open up the world of government.
Richard Pietro’s Open Government Tour hits Winnipeg on Monday, August 11, as he continues his cross county motorcycle tour, promoting democratic engagement by way of technology, transparency and accountability.
“I want to introduce the concepts of Open Government and Open Data to Canadians,” says Pietro. “Hopefully this acts as a spark that will help push the movements over the tipping point and change the perspective that this kind of stuff isn’t only relegated to those who are uber-civically engaged, politico, or super-techie.”
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.”
At the Winnipeg event which will be held at 6 p.m. in the Carol Shields Auditorium in the Millennium Library, Pietro will be joined in a panel discussion by Winnipeg Free Press reporter, Mary Agnes Welch, Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Dennis Lewycky from the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, and Charles Thrift of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The panel will also welcome a representative from the City of Winnipeg’s Open Data portal.
The opportunity for community engagement which Community News Commons has provided through its citizen journalism website and through the ongoing multi-media workshops offered since 2012, makes this event especially relevant to CNC citizen reporters, many of whom are familiar with the concept of engaged citizenry and the value of exploring together the benefits that a culture of openness can bring to government.
“I will be hosting an evening where engaged citizens, public servants, students, and corporate representatives will be invited to participate in a conversation about how they can improve their community through the Open Government – Open Data movements,” says Pietro.
Like Pietro, Open Democracy Manitoba (ODM) has a history of promoting democratic participation. ODM successfully produced WinnipegElection.ca in 2010 and ManitobaElection.ca in 2011. These citizen election tool websites have provided a one-stop-shop for voters to read up on candidates, education themselves about who they are voting for, and better understand the electoral process. ODM is committed to providing election resources and improving education on democratic participation and accountability.
Monday evening’s event will follow a “late night talk show” format, which will be broken down into two groups of guests, with a theme topic for each group. An introduction will discuss ‘Make Web Not War’ as well as define what is ‘Open Source’.
The second part will examine the culture of Open Government: What does it look like? What are the obstacles? Where are the low hanging fruits?
The third and final discussion will feature a conversation about Open Data / Technology: What are the tools and processes that can help make Open Government a reality?
For more details about this event, click here. To register for this free event, click here. For more details about the Open Government Tour (OGT14), click here. The Twitter hashtag for the event is #OGT14.