REGINA, SK –The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today launched a new website which turns its three-year-old Local Government Performance Index into an interactive tool for journalists, municipal staff, and the public. The site contains comparative statistics from the Annual Reports of Canada’s municipalities, and judgements on the quality of their reporting. The URL is www.lgpi.ca
The site is at the cutting edge of several revolutions in online policy analysis.
“Up to now,” Frontier Centre Senior Policy Analyst David Seymour said, “the use of the internet for policy analysis has meant turning old fashioned paper into PDF documents and webpages. In other words the medium changed but not the format. While it’s a faster way of sharing documents, it’s like putting a motor on a horse drawn carriage. It doesn’t unlock the full potential of the computer or the internet.”
The new site, however, allows users to customise their experience by selecting data or cities to compare. It will also allow them choose from tables, bar charts and pie charts to better present the data.
But it doesn’t stop there. The site’s database is also open for anyone to register as a contributor; as long as they can provide a reference, they can add, challenge, or change data in the index.
Seymour said that Frontier Centre staff looked at the declining traditional encyclopaedia industry and decided that producing data in house and sending it out is a dying practice. “We wanted to make the tools available to a wider community of people interested in municipal performance and transparency. The rise of Wikipedia and the recent decline of traditional encyclopaedias have shown that a large community of volunteers from all walks of life can easily produce a better resource than a small group of experts.”
Many cities have begun to publish their annual reports in early summer. Now the opportunity exists to begin inputting data from these reports very quickly to add to data from the 2007 and 2008 financial years.
Because the site automatically calculates averages and makes comparisons to other cities possible straight away, anybody inputting raw data from financial statements gets an immediate return on their effort. “The website is live as of today for people who want to access previous years’ data or add to the 2009 financial year data. We plan to produce analysis and commentary on the data collected later in the year,” he added.
Enquiries should be directed to David Seymour, Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Centre. firstname.lastname@example.org
or (306) 581-1007