OpenNorth is a Montreal -based non-profit that builds online tools to enhance the transparency of government and transform democratic engagement. Serving three primary groups of clients– citizens, government, and journalists– OpenNorth’s collection of online tools aim to connect segments of the population for the purposes of sharing information and opinions.
Perhaps the most relevant of OpenNorth’s tools to public engagement is Citizen Budget. Much like other budget simulators, Citizen Budget aims to educate citizens about the tradeoffs involved with creating a budget. Participants use a sliding scale to allocate the levels of funding they believe should be given to various projects, departments, and categories of spending. The platform requires users to enter their age, which allows for the municipality to gather information on the budgetary priorities of different segments of the population.
In addition to Citizen Budget, OpenNorth has created a variety of tools, each serving a unique and singular function. Some of the more relevant tools include: Open 511, which is funded by the Canadian government to manage and publish road events and closures throughout the country; and Represent, which is an open database of elected representatives at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels in Canada. Prices vary widely depending on the platform.
While Represent is a free service, Citizen Budget begins its pricing at $4,000 (Canadian) per budget.