Govt data now available at push of a button

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Public data is now more accessible with the launch of a new website www.bermuda.io.

Developed by Andrew Simons and Louis Galipeau, the website was launched yesterday with reports from the Department of Statistics, the Auditor General and the Finance Ministry.

About 20 years worth of reports — including Budget Books, annual reports of the Auditor General and audited financial statements of the Consolidated Fund — have already been scanned into the site.

“The developers of Bermuda.io have started with these documents because they go to the heart of the operations of Government,” the pair said in a press release.

“The Budget Book details planned revenue and spending, while the audited financials of the Consolidated Fund show the actual figures.

“The Auditor General’s report provides an independent opinion on the government’s financial management. Finally, the Digest of Statistics and the Census report contain economic and demographic data which provide important context.

“Bound copies of each report, some running to 400 pages, sit on the shelves of The Bermuda National Library and the Bermuda Archives. Members of the public can use the documents there, but cannot take them home.

“In contrast, visitors to the Bermuda.io website can freely view documents online or download the searchable files at any time, anywhere.” Mr Simons said that users can now easily access thousands of facts and data from the documents.

“They answer questions like ‘What’s the revenue from lobster licences each season?’, ‘What school renovations are planned for the following year?’ and ‘How much does a firefighter earn?’ Bermuda.io makes these documents available to the man in the street anytime, anywhere.

“With just a smartphone, you can answer your own questions. Facts should improve debates in the House of the Assembly and at the kitchen table. Answers beget further questions and, I hope, deeper engagement with important issues on the island.”

A broader range of public data will be uploaded in both human and machine readable formats in the future.

“The website is powered by the free software CKAN, the same software that powers data.gov and data.gov.uk, the open data websites of the governments of the USA and UK respectively,” said Louis Galipeau.

“In addition Bermuda.io also makes use of DocumentCloud a website that enables journalists and researchers to store and share original source materials. DocumentCloud is used by news organisations such as the BBC, New York Times, and 60 Minutes.”

The developers have started a blog (http://blog.bermuda.io/) for their open data project, and welcome feedback.

Mr Galipeau describes himself as a “self-taught technophile with a diverse background”. He is a founder member of TEDxBermuda and works as the senior lead applications architect with a local law firm.

Mr Simons was a candidate in the last general election and works as a catastrophe modeller.

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Published Sep 6, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm)

Govt data now available at push of a button

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