Stop the backbiting and focus on the facts
The founders of Bermuda.io — the country's first open data website — yesterday called on the Island's residents to use that data to generate constructive conversations grounded on facts.
“I challenge you to use the data we've published,” said co-founder Andrew Simons at the weekly Rotary Meeting at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Association. “I challenge you to encourage greater engagement with facts within the community. I challenge you to bring people together to work on common goals.”
Developed by Mr Simons and Louis Galipeau, Bermuda.io went live last month featuring data sets 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, representing more than 1,000 hours of painstaking work.
With no plans for monetising the site, Mr Simons and Mr Galipeau's motivations are simple: they hope greater access to Bermuda's public documents will encourage debate beyond the ubiquitous “backbiting” within politics.
“I ran as a candidate last election, and what I found most humbling about that experience was walking door-to-door and trying to talk to people. I was running in an area where people didn't rate my chances very highly, so instead of talking about politics, I talked about the Auditor General's report.
“Because what I would hear on Angle Street, what I would hear on North Shore Road, was ‘I'm tired of the politics. I'm tired of the backbiting. [Bermuda.io] was a good opportunity to ground conversation in fact.”