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Archive for March, 2013

Wanted: Open Data Citizen’s Group in Woolwich Township

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 19th March 2013

Open Data Woolwich Township

 

Alan Marshall, known online as the Elmira Advocate, recently blogged about the lack of data transparency:

What I do know is this. Environmental data is not shared with the public. What I do know about Waterloo’s water scares me but perhaps not as much as what I don’t know.

The Region of Waterloo is gradually making its collected data available to the public in Open Data sets. This means that citizens can use and re-use the data for mapping, tracking trends, and correlating it with other data sources. The data is licensed specifically to encourage its re-use, not restrict it.

The Region of Waterloo data sets are available at http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/OpenDataHome.asp

There is a citizens’ group called OpenDataWR that encourages governments to make their collected data available in standardized, re-usable formats. They meet occasionally to work on new applications utilizing Open Data resources.

OpenDataWR recently held a hackathon, where groups of people worked on new projects that makes uses of Open Data. It was mostly computer programmers at the hackathon, but we need advocates like Alan with deep knowledge of the data, science, and the meaning of the data so that the programmers can write better applications. We also need publicists to make the existence of Open Data more widely known, as well as the applications that make use of it. We need lobbyists to advocate for more Open Data from governments, and from commercial organizations such as Conestoga Rovers. For instance, the University of Waterloo has an Open Data project as well.

As far as I know, Woolwich Township doesn’t have an Open Data project, or even a policy about making its data available in open formats. For example, even something so fundamental as the Woolwich Council meeting calendar is not made available in a standard calendar format, so you can’t easily add Council meetings to your own iPad or Outlook calendar.

It would be nice to have an Open Data advocacy group in Woolwich Township. There’s certainly enough data, just no good way to get at it.

Call to arms!

If anyone is interested in setting up an Open Data Woolwich Township citizens’ group to encourage and guide the Township into opening its data, please leave a comment below or contact me at bjonkman@sobac.com.

–Bob.

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