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NOW website is a step toward 'open data'

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You probably haven’t heard much about ‘open data’. Most people probably haven’t.

But the notion of making government and bureaucracy more transparent holds great potential improvements for citizens, organizations and businesses.

And Winnipeg has recently taken its first steps down the open data and open government path.

There is a new tool available online on the City of Winnipeg website. It’s the Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg (NOW) portal, at now.winnipeg.ca. This new resource focuses on location data, which is presented in an easy to understand way: as information on Google Maps. You can easily explore community resources that are important in your daily life, such as daycares, schools, and greenspaces. It can help you do things like plan a bike-friendly commute, find convenient recreational activities, or find the best place to catch the bus.

The information on the NOW portal is excellent, and the city went a step further and made the data itself available, which  offers many more benefits.

With other data the city could release such as housing assessment, zoning, traffic, infrastructure, in addition to available Statistics Canada data and provincial resources, the possibilities are enormous.

Other cities have created ‘open data portals’ that offer comprehensive data on a vast variety of topics, from pet registrations to crimes to... well, just about everything you can think of.

There have already open data and open government projects in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Transit has an open data service. The Crimestat tool lets you view on maps where crimes thave taken place.

Open data and open government projects are investments in everyone’s future.

Ideally applied, open data and open government can help people better understand the resources in their communities.

The path can lead to efficient and accountable government, and help people make better informed decisions at election time. It can make businesses more successful.

I am really looking forward to Winnipeg’s next step.

Jody Gillis is a community correspondent for North Kildonan.

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