GTEC Dispatch: Open data drives innovation, improves service delivery
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  ibmsoftware
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Mr. Clement was the first keynote speaker this morning at the annual GTEC conference in Ottawa. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, GTEC is the largest conference in Canada dedicated to government, technology and the way they interact to serve Canadian citizens.
The theme of this year's event is Collaborating and Innovating - Making a Difference for Canadians. IBM is a gold (lead) event sponsor, with focused sessions and expo displays dedicated to solutions including:
Similar in intent to the American site data.gov, the Canada’s Open Data Portal was launched as a pilot project in March 2011 as part of Canada's Action Plan on Open Government. Since then, some 273,000 datasets from 21 participating agencies have been uploaded to the portal, generating about one million user sessions. (See the most popular downloads here.)
In addition to national Census and geographic data, people can also access more smaller, more focused sets, such as the number of dairy cows in each province.
The opening of the Portal is a major break from previous government approaches, said Mr. Clement. Previously, most government data sets came only with a price tag and were subject to strict usage criteria. Few could afford them; fewer still ever saw them.
Mr. Clement says the move puts Canada on a growing list of countries moving to more open, transparent and accountable communications with their citizens. He also said it also opens up new avenues of research and innovation to improve the lives of Canadians through improved delivery across a range of services.
Mr. Clement cited the Weather Network as a prime example of open data innovation because it relies on mapping data provided by the federal government. On a smaller scale, he also explained how citizens in the northern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie reduced the likelihood of bear encounters. The city changed its collection schedule using an app that combined local map data and geo-tagged bear sightings.
The next generation of the Open Data Platform is expected to launch in the spring of 2013. This version will be the result of a collaborative initiative between India and the United States designed to promote transparency and greater citizen engagement by releasing government data to the public through a freely available, open source platform. It will also include a new data use license based on the United Kingdom’s Open Government License for Public Sector Information. The Government of Canada is soliciting feedback and comments on it until the end of January 2013.
In closing, Mr. Clement said citizens want services that are fast and simple to use, and that governments need to innovate to go beyond the status quo. "Technology enables us to effect real savings and improved services for Canadians," he said.
"Our Open Data Initiative draws on an entrepreneurial spirit and opens up an era of great opportunity. Let's make the most of it."