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Tracking the Health and Wealth of Winnipeg

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, November 10 2010

Meet Peg. Unveiled this past Friday, Peg, online at mypeg.ca, is the city of Winnipeg's new community indicator portal onto the state of human living in that south-central Canadian city. Powered by government and private-sector data, Peg's stated spirit is one of "tracking progress [and] taking action" on measures like health, education, natural environment, and governance -- factors that can be funneled into creating a informed picture of that city of 600,000 people's more pressing concerns, like poverty. Peg, a project of the United Way of Winnipeg and the International Institute of Sustainable Development with public and private funding, is driven by the notion that the heaps of data collected inside government and inside industry can, if freed from their sources and then harnessed intelligently, help us understand our towns, cities, and even countries in ways that also empowers us to set to work making them better.

Give Peg a spin.

As a technical accomplishment, Peg is an instance of Citizen Dan, an open civic platform that gives municipalities and those who love them free tools to create dashboards for their spots on the planet. Visually, Peg's a real beauty. But programmers who work on the project are equally enchanted with the way Peg's built. Frédérick Giasson, a computer scientists who worked on the project, has a full helping of details on the "beautiful semantic muffin" that makes up Peg's internal workings.

Peg's very much a work in progress. Folks involved in the project say that eight more site-wide themes (in addition to "poverty") will be added to the site in the next two to three years.