Open data idea offers payback 2012-06-12


“While delegates to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities were in town, I helped to give a series of tours of an affordable housing project. There were mayors, councillors and civic administrators who came, looked around and asked a lot of questions. Most had to do with funding streams, but on the last tour the questions focused on problems of homelessness in Saskatoon. I was going to share my thoughts, but I asked them: ‘Do any of your jurisdictions study root causes of social issues?’ None of them did. Despite the excellent work that the City of Saskatoon has done going back 36 years with the publication of its Neighbourhood Profiles, we have a limited understanding of many problems in Saskatoon because we don't collect or have access of the data we need to really understand the issues. We aren't alone. Because they lack data, governments around the world make many decisions without fully understanding the consequences... There is a growing global movement called Open Data. It is the idea that a lot of government data should be made available to the public so not only can we hold governments accountable but also make better commercial and societal decisions... A launching point was in 2004 when the ministers of science in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development signed a declaration that called for all taxpayer-funded archive data to be made publicly available... Perhaps the biggest example of Open Data implementation is the U.S. government project called Its purpose is to make available U.S. government data to anyone in a usable format... Canada is getting on the Open Data bandwagon as well. Tony Clement started us down the path toward being more open and transparent with data., which already has more than 12,000 data sets including more than 8,000 from Statistics Canada and another 3,200 from Agriculture Canada... Locally, municipalities started opening up their data as well. Several municipalities have online crime maps, with the Edmonton Police Service demonstrating one of the best implementations of the idea. It allows you to see a crime breakdown on a map of a neighbourhood for time periods up to the past 60 days... That's not all. With open data and the right tools, you can start to layer on other data bits and see what factors such as unemployment, elementary classroom sizes, types of businesses or even different kinds of street lighting have on making certain social problems better or worse. It's not the first data set that gives the answers. It's the multiple layers that start to make the picture clearer. Once we start to understand the problem, then we can start to identify the solutions...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.policies oa.comment oa.government oa.usa oa.declarations oa.lay oa.canada



Date tagged:

06/12/2012, 16:21

Date published:

06/12/2012, 16:55